31 May 2007

On the Edge

Okay, I promised photos, and I've got photos. When I was conceptualizing the edging for this shawl, one of the things I wanted to do was continue the chain selvedge along the top edge of the shawl. This meant figuring out a way to cast on additional stitches for the edging that would maintain this feature, and the best way to do that was to do a crochet cast on, much as one would do for a provisional cast on but using the working yarn. To do this, I slipped off the first loop on the needle and then redid that stitch as a crocheted-on stitch, then continued with the crochet cast on for the required number of edging stitches. This row of stitches would be substituted for the normal first row of the edging on the first repeat.


In this particular case, the pattern calls for 9 stitches to be cast on, but there is an increase of one stitch in the first row, so I cast on a total of 10 edging stitches. The last loop, rather than having the yarn pulled through it to make a new stitch, is simply flipped up over the end of the needle and becomes itself the last stitch.


The first row worked, then, is actually the second row of the pattern, which is worked back towards the shawl border. The final edging stitch of the row is worked together with the first border stitch (which, you will remember, is the first stitch of the crochet chain). The turn, slip and work row 3 of the chart. At the end of each even-numbered (wrong side) row, the final edging stitch is knit together with the next border stitch on the needle. I only got two repeats of the edging done because my wrist is bothering me a bit, but it's a start.


Only 59 more repeats to go before I can wash and block!

One More Thing

The first cria of the spring was born on the farm yesterday at around noon - an adorable little light fawn girl. I don't know what her name is going to be, but I'll try to get a photo taken and up soon.

30 May 2007

Shawl Update

The day is dawning quickly here, so just a quick drive-by post before I hop into my coffin bed. I just finished the border of the shawl and am all ready to start the edging. I'm going with the "Doris" edging from Heirloom Knitting (photos of it can be seen here or here). I plan on taking photos of my set up for the edging, as it's something I unvented. I'm sure someone's done it before, but I came up without outside assistance and think it's worth sharing. No time to do it now, though.

I had an "Oh, shit" moment the other night when I was about 2/3 done with the border and saw that I had dropped a stitch back on the 19th pattern repeat in the body - one of the double decrease stitches, no less. I hadn't lost my stitch count, so I apparently was so tired when I did it that I didn't notice I wasn't actually purling into the stitch and was just making a yarnover, instead. How it managed not to ravel is beyond me, but I am sooooooo glad it didn't.

Ripping back to it was not an option (yes, there was a lifeline - at the 15th pattern repeat), so I took a breath and got out a sharp darning needle, scissors, and a short length of yarn from the outside of the ball, and made a little splice to fix it. If you didn't know where to look, you'd be hard pressed to find it. I actually tried to take a photo of the mistake, but even that was hard to see as a tiny lavender loop against a backdrop of lavender loops. That particular motif is a bit more open than its neighbors, but I think blocking will mitigate that difference nicely.

Okay, off to bed. Must rest up for work tonight.

27 May 2007

Saturday Sky Plus


I don't belong to the Saturday Sky ring because a) I'm not that much of a joiner, and b) it would require far to much intention on my part to consistently get a Saturday sky photo to share. Today, though, I thought I would share this bit of Saturday sky, which was taken on an overnight visit to my grandmother's - partly for the visit itself and partly to look at possible wedding venues and possible accommodations for guests. Just before the trip, I got a new 28mm/f1.4 lens (38mm equivalent on the digital camera), so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play with it.

This promontory is Ob's point and used to be in the family (It was owned by Oliver Bunker, whom everyone called Ob on account of his initials). The nearest bit of land visible across the water is the northern tip of Stave Island. When I spent summers with my grandparents as a kid, I would come down here and stay for hours. Someday my ashes will be scattered here, because I can't imagine a Heaven that could top this place.

David & I also took a nice long hike back along the logging road into the woods behind my grandmother's. I took a number of photos of the mosses, lichens and other flora to help with ideas for wedding decorations, so I thought I'd share some of those, as well. Mostly because it's late and I'm too tired to write anything else.










22 May 2007

The Problem with Monogamy...

...where knitting is concerned, is that it provides so little blog fodder. It doesn't help that I've put in 100+ hours at work over the past two weeks, or that David was away for the past week at AOBA Nationals. On top of all that, it was cold, grey and rainy all last week, so I couldn't even get out and do anything garden-wise.

The shawl has been proceeding steadily, though. I just finished the 20th and final pattern repeat for the body and worked out a chart for a basic, but hopefully very effective, border last night and sorted out how deep it needs to be to make the edging repeats fit on just so. I'd post a photo, but at this point it's just more of the same, so it seems, well, pointless.

There Is One Thing, Though...

...that's kind of been going on recently that I haven't blogged about yet. When I went to Knit Camp last month, one of the farthest-flung knitsibs who was able to make it was Joy, who is living in India these days (though here in the States for the summer).

We talked quite a bit about Rewalsar, where she's living, and in particular about the dog and cat overpopulation there. Aside from the general concerns related to having too many dogs and cats running around making babies and getting sick or run over by cars, it's also a huge human health concern. India has fully half the world's human rabies deaths, more than any other country in the world. Some 20-30,000 people die in India every year from the disease, most of them children and most from dog bites.

So this got me to thinking about the possibility of trying to set up some sort of program to do some sterilization & vaccination. It wouldn't do much for the national picture, but I figure it would at least be something. So I've been looking into programs already in place, since it seems crazy to duplicate effort, and I've been in contact with two different ones - one 1000km from Rewalsar in Jodhpur that's got some technical assistance from WHO and Humane Society International and might be a useful model to look at, and a homegrown effort in Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh, which is run by the veterinary school in the state in conjunction with the Department of Animal Husbandry.

So the past month has been filled with a lot of research (and a lot of time trying to teach myself devanagari script) and now I'm looking into the possibility of making a fall trip - a recon mission of sorts - to see what sort of groundwork I need to lay to make something happen. It's possible that there may not be much, as Nyondo just posted about seeing a couple of recently spayed dogs around town.

The other reason for an advance trip is to figure out how best to get David around if I can manage to drag him along at some point. He may have lived in and around Manhattan for 10 years and seen a lot of weird shit, but I'm pretty sure that he'd have a rough time handling Delhi without someone who at least has an idea of what to do. I may, too, for that matter, but I'm usually pretty good at landing on my feet in those situations and a lot better at picking up other languages. Still, at this point, nothing's firm and I have to figure out whether it's even possible.

One Last Thing

So this isn't a completely photo-free post, I offer you the latest yoga asana as demonstrated by Bosox, one of my patients from last night. I give you "cat licking ass" pose:

Downloaded May 14 2007 141

16 May 2007

What To Say?

I first read the news about an hour after Jerry Falwell was declared dead. As a member of one of his favorite target groups, I can't say I'll miss the man. His friends and family may have nothing but fond memories, but to me he's someone who got rich and fat by spreading lies and fomenting hate - particularly towards my people. And of course, the cynic in me can't help but notice that he didn't exactly follow Jesus's advice to give up all his worldly possessions. There's big money in scaring folks to God, after all.

That said, I won't exactly be dancing on his grave, either. His passing doesn't really do anything to undermine the legacy he's left behind. The Religious Wrong is a much stronger force in this country's politics because of the groundwork he lay, and it's learned to be much more insidious than it was back in the Moral Majority days. If you don't believe me, just watch how much the Bible gets thumped - by both sides - in the next year and a half of presidential campaigning.

One of the best stories I think I've ever heard, though, indirectly involves Falwell. My friend Chip grew up in Rev. Falwell's church, so he got to hear regularly about all the sodomites in San Francisco. He tells the story best, since it is his story, but in his late teens he had to take a cross-country bus trip to the west coast and surreptitiously figured out how he could route his trip so he'd have a layover of several hours in San Francisco. His parents, of course, were mortified.

Anyway, this nubile young fella from Virginia made it to Sodom and was very quickly approached by a young man in the bus station who began chatting him up and ended up inviting Chip back to his hotel room. Chip, of course, was very nervous and very excited, expecting that he'd finally get laid. When they got back to the guy's hotel, though, it turned out he was just a Moonie looking for converts.

Almost as good is Chip's story of the time his parents finally met his partner Stan, who is African-American. Again, he tells it best but it took place at a Cracker Barrel in northern Virginia in the early 1990's. Let's just say that Stan was a show-stopper.

15 May 2007


The shawl is now up to 15 pattern repeats - 57% of the body done - but work on it has been a bit slow for various reasons. Reason number one is that I've been trying to take advantage of the nice weather we've had the past few days to work on digging up the grass and weeds that have choked the daylily bed that is the steep slope in front of our house. We'll see if I can really get it cleaned out before it all just grows right back in again.

The second reason is that I just added an additional shift onto my work schedule. It's a 10AM-7PM Sunday shift, so only 9 hours as opposed to my usual 15, but it's generally the busiest time of the week, which means I'm on my feet the entire time. It also means getting up at 8AM, which in my little world is an ungodly hour to be getting out of bed. Still, I need to build up a fairly sizeable chunk of savings so that David and I can buy this house. The landladies are starting to look into subdividing the property, and negotiations will likely commence by years' end.

Anyway, since I don't have much else of interest, I figured I'd distract you with a cute photo. This little guy was brought into the clinic last Saturday morning. One of our techs volunteers at a wildlife refuge and offered to take him, so hopefully he'll do well.


12 May 2007

Livin' on a Prayer?

Okay, I was going to call this post 'Halfway There' but, well, I was in high school in the 80's. 'Nuff said (Swear to FSM, I didn't read this post before I thought of the title, either).

Anyway, I'm officially halfway through the body of the elfin lace shawl - 14 out of 20 pattern repeats done, which is 210 of 420 repeats of the motif. As expected, it is taking much longer to get through a pattern repeat now, but it's got a nice rhythm and it's relaxing. And it is so not looking like boiled ass.


Imagine how it's going to look once it's blocked.

08 May 2007


No, not the Sir Mix-a-Lot variety, though it'll be interesting to see what sort of Google searches it attracts.

It's been a beautiful and busy spring around here the last several days, which is why it's been 5 days since my last post. Friday we went up to my parents', partly to visit them and retrieve a couple of apple trees they'd picked up for us, partly because it was a closer jumping off point to go do a herd health visit at an alpaca farm up in the mountains. David had never visited the mountains, the Northern part of the Appalachian range, and was surprised to see a fair bit of snow still on the mountains and even in the shady parts of the valley.

Sunday night at work was busy, busy, busy, with no down time at all to pick up the shawl-in-progress (I'm mostly through the 12th of 20 repeats for the body). Then I had a recheck appointment at an alpaca farm on my way home, and a ton of errands to run, and then a couple apple trees to plant. Yesterday, I only managed to get one of them done.


This is a Cole's Quince, which is a rare heirloom variety that originated here in southern Maine. It took me 3 or 4 hours to get the hole properly prepared and get this into the ground, partly because of the fibromyalgia but largely because of that fine harvest of rocks you can see in the photo.

After all that running around and hard physical labor, I dragged myself upstairs and took a long soak in a hot bath with lavender and cedarwood oils. I also fell asleep long enough that my wrinkles had wrinkles, but the tub is far too short for me to slide down and drown, so do not fear for my safety. And when I finally went to bed, I slept the sleep of the dead for 13 hours, with only the vaguest recollection of David coming to bed and getting up.

Today's planting was a bit quicker, as there were not quite as many rocks (though still some very nice specimens which can't be seen in the photo).


This one is a Wealthy, which was developed in Minnesota from seed that originated in Maine. I had ordered a Baldwin, but they didn't have any when my folks went to pick up the order and my mother settled on this one instead. It's supposed to ripen earlier and doesn't have quite the storage quality of the Baldwin, but I look forward to seeing what I get from it.

Of course, part of the fun of gardening on an old farm like this is that it also becomes a bit of an archaeological dig when you come across things like this:


or these:


My flower bed also continues to surprise and delight. These little species tulips opened up next to the steps the other day.


I really prefer the species varieties of tulips to the common Triumph varieties that one usually sees planted. Largely, I think, because they're so unexpected, but I feel like they also have more character - each is a bit different and unique. One thing I'm not terribly keen on is double flowering varieties of most anything, but these daffodils opened up quite unexpectedly, and I must admit I think they're lovely.


And I've been watching for the last several weeks to see whether the Siberian irises were going to get over their indignation at being dug up last fall (They're such primadonnas). At least some of them have.


I won't hold my breath for blossoms this year, but we shall see.

04 May 2007

Two By Two

Today was quite a day for things in pairs. First off, it was David's birthday, which means it was also Landlady Paula's birthday. They are exactly twenty years apart in age, and next year will be their 100th birthday. We are in the pre-planning stages for that one, but for today we decided to celebrate by, what else, doing a couple of alpaca castrations!

Here are the victims patients pre-surgery, Spirit on the left and Otis on the right. I cropped out Paula & Wendy because Paula didn't want to be seen in her mucking-about-the-farm attire, but they're both smiling, perhaps a bit too gleefully.


Some good drugs, and then it was just a little incision, a clamp


a tie, and a cut,


and repeat,


followed by a few sutures. David intrepidly managed to take photos for the first one, but decided that was enough for him. Otis's surgery was much the same, though, and at the end we were left with what the folks across the Pond might refer to as a "bloody, bollocky mess".



Nonetheless, within a very short period, both boys were up and about and none little the worse for wear.


Lest you think that was all our excitement, afterwards I put on some nicer clothes and took David out for pizza (his request) at a restaurant we hadn't been to before but were told has the best pizza around. I'm not certain about that claim, but it was decent, at any rate. After dinner, we came home and had some fudge that I made up last night from a mix - I was dubious, but it was a gift we'd had for a while - but with extra cocoa and walnuts added. We also watched Helen Mirren as The Queen, and I finished up these for Dulaan:

Toddler socks in Cleckheaton Country 8 ply, Sherman short row toe up pattern, 3.25mm (US3) dpn's

So, to recap - two birthdays, two alpaca castrations, two balls each, two small pizzas, and two socks ready to go. There was only one thing today that didn't fit into the pattern of twos. While we were watching the movie, there was a little bit of a ruckus downstairs, which I assumed was Tolo getting into some sort of trouble (as he does). After the movie, David started down the stairs and I heard him exclaim, "OH! MY! GOD!"

It turns out our little troublemaker was earning his keep.


He was quite proud of himself, but he was having fun playing and wasn't being too quick about dispatching the poor thing, although it was barely moving by then. So I gave him some praise and told him what a good little hunter he was, then took the mouse away and (after David had gone upstairs so he wouldn't have to watch) euthanized it to spare it a lingering demise.

I'm still proud of my little man, though.

02 May 2007

And So It Grows....


The last time I took a photo of this, shortly after starting it last week, I had gotten through 3½ pattern repeats. I'm now up to 8 out of a planned 20 repeats. It seems like good progress until one considers that each pattern repeat adds on two more iterations of the motif. So, that translates into a planned total of 420 repeats of the motif, of which I have done 72 - roughly 17%. And then I have to knit on an edging. I think I'll be going for quick and easy, as there's a certain degree of expediency required with this project.

When I started this shawl last week, I thought I was doing it for its own sake and had no recipient in mind for it. It struck me the next day, though, that it already had an owner. It would serve as a prayer shawl for my great-uncle Bill's wife, Carol. You may remember that I visited Bill last month when I was in North Carolina. The progression of his lung cancer sped up over the past couple weeks, and Bill passed away at around midnight Monday night.

I'm sure Carol will do okay. Hospice was a great help in getting them through the last few months, as were their very strong network of family & friends. The shawl will just be my little contribution to that web of love and support, with my own memories of Bill knit into each stitch.

Update (2 May): Just before I visited North Carolina in March, The Raleigh News & Observer ran a front page story in their Sunday edition on Bill's end-of-life journey. In today's paper, the writer of that article wrote another brief article about Bill's passing. For anyone who might be interested, it can be viewed here for probably about another week before it gets archived.