Not ANOTHER Snowstorm!

Holy Moly!  The Commander told me this morning that another snowstorm is headed our way.  Snow is to begin this afternoon and then get heavier tomorrow with 4-6 inches expected on our side of the river and 6-12 inches expected on the other side of the river.  What always makes it tricky is that we live less than a mile from the river (the mighty Susquehanna River) so it could go either way where we are.  That being said, the logs are stacked in the fireplace and we’re ready to gather around with hot cocoa and watch the snow fall.  Actually, that’s our gas fireplace so the logs are fake but the effect is still lovely.  I can’t say as much for the snow at this point.  We were just starting to see some grass in spots here.  Oy!

In the meantime, I’ll console myself with the fact that my new spinning wheel, a Schacht Matchless DT is scheduled to be delivered today.  I’ve checked the UPS tracking and it made it to the distribution center right across the river yesterday so it should be on the truck today.  I’ve been busy spinning, in the meantime, on the Louet Victoria.  The more I spin on that little beauty, the more I am enjoying it.  For some reason, the height and angle of the orifice is just perfect for me.  I am finding the Lendrum, with it’s downward angle of the orifice, is harder on my back if I’ve been spinning for long periods of time.  Maybe it’s the osteoporosis and the fact that I’m starting to angle downward more now (drat) but there you have it.  With the Victoria, I can comfortably sit back in a variety of different chairs without slouching and still comfortably spin.  Just to give you a physical comparison, I’m around 5 ft. 5 inches tall but my legs are pretty long,  if you are considering buying a Victoria and wondering how it might work for you.

In knitting news, I finished the Julie H. Levy square of the Great American Aran Afghan.  I am almost finished with the Marian Tabler square, which I am knitting in a light brown heathered color.  Tonight I have another class where we will be beginning the Meredith Morioka square.  So slowly but surely our class is working through the squares of this somewhat intimidating afghan.  The trick is definitely to take it one square at a time (and getting pointers in a group setting is a definite plus).

I’ll leave you with a picture of me “entertaining” my little Mika.  I call it “Me and Grumpy.”  I still have the uncanny ability to put my granddaughter into a less than happy mood.  Someone said that this was God’s way of making it easier for me to say “goodbye” to her soon.  It would be so much harder if she were snuggling up to me at every turn and clinging to me.  Right?  Hmmm, I don’t know about that.  I think it’s going to be hard either way.

Well, hopefully tomorrow I’ll have pictures of my new Schacht to show you.  In the meantime, somebody out there has to be enjoying warm, Spring-like weather.  Enjoy it for me.

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Here We Go Again!

It’s another snowstorm.  We got about 8 inches of new snow overnight and it is still coming down.  The weatherman is predicting the heaviest snow will come today between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Wow!  We might get another 8 inches of snow just today.  There’s nothing like sitting by a window in a warm house, watching the snow fall while you munch on sweet potato chips.  Yum!

My daughter reports that the wind is blowing so hard out her way (near the West Virginia border …..below Frederick, MD), that they are experiencing near whiteout conditions.  The schools there have just thrown up the white flag and canceled school until next Tuesday.  Her hubby is busy trying to clear snow off of their deck because the weight of the snow is so heavy that they are afraid it might cause the deck to collapse.

Until I can get out to take some more pictures of our latest snowfall, here is a picture of the latest square I’ve completed in the Great American Aran Afghan that I’m working on.  It’s the Julie H. Levy square.  There are a few boo-boo’s in this square but I’m fine with that.  It was a good learning experience and now I’m feeling quite comfortable at working cables without using a cable needle.  And these were my first bobbles.  I gave up on trying to follow the bobble directions in the pattern and just resorted to the directions in “The Knitting Companion.”

On a fun note, I have a blog to recommend to any of you who are librarians, library staff, or former library workers.  One of my former co-workers recommended this on Facebook today and I had to head over there.  The entries are funny and right on target, if you’ve ever worked in a library.  They’re also short so you can get your dose of humor quickly and then be on your way.  The blog is A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette.  Enjoy!

Modifying An Afghan Square

I mentioned awhile back that I had started on my second square for the Great American Aran Afghan.  This particular square is the Judy Sumner square which is the first square in the pattern booklet put out by Knitter’s Magazine.  Judy, the designer, included a big, honking 3-dimensional spider in this square along with some other bugs.  Since I can’t stand bugs in any shape or form, I decided to leave them out of this square entirely.

That left me with a dilemma.   Should I just knit the vine going up the one side and the X’s and O’s on either border and forget the netting in the upper right corner?  Actually, I’m not entirely sure what that “netting” is supposed to be.  I’m thinking it is probably a spider’s web but I’ve heard other knitters say it was a beehive.  Who knows?  Back to the question at hand.  If I did the first choice, that would leave me with a pretty blank right side to the square.

The second option would be to knit all of the above in the first choice and add the “netting” in the upper corner.  OK, that’s workable.  At least it would add some interest.    And the third option might be to also knit the spider’s “legs” but leave off the body and just call it a design element which would basically fill out the square without the 3-dimensional quality of the original square.

Here’s what I ended up doing.  I had actually started knitting the legs of the spider but decided that would look plain silly so I stopped.  Yup, just switched over to reverse stockinette about six rows into Chart C and I have to tell you, it felt good.  I really started to fly through the square once I did that.  I left the “netting” in, too, because I thought it looked neat and wanted to try knitting it.  So once I had the square finished, I looked it over and tried to decide what I was going to substitute for the spider.  I vaguely had in mind to add something else that was 3-dimensional.  Well, as I examined that lower right corner, the small area where I had been knitting Chart “C” actually looked like the leaf portion of buds to me.  Eureka!  I’d put some small 3-dimensional buds there.  So I whipped up two very short I-cords and sewed them to the square, terminating them at the little “bud” leaf nips.   At that point I jumped to another idea.

A night or two before I reached this point, I had dreamed about this square and in the dream, I had knit up some 3-dimensional flowers.   When I woke up, the idea still sounded pretty good to me (which is not always the case with inspiration that comes to me in a dream).  I had started to look through my knitting library to see what patterns I might have for flowers.  Sure enough, I found an easy little pattern for a rose in the book Beautiful Embroidered & Embellished Knits by Jane Davis.  So I knit up a rose and decided that there was a spot near the top of the square that would lend itself nicely to a full-bodied rose.

Next question that I had to resolve was what color to make this rose.  I could make it in the original color of my square – green.  Hmm, that really didn’t appeal to me.  The other colors that are going to be in this afghan are heathered brown and the pale ivory of my Susan Rainey square.  Somehow the idea of a brown rose wasn’t sitting well with me so I decided to go with the white rose.  Decision made, rose knitted and attached.

Now back to my buds.  I searched for some bud patterns but just couldn’t find any that seemed to suit.  I looked at the remnants of my ill-fated attempt at Chart “C” once more.  You know, it could perhaps be made into two toadstools.  I found some amigurumi patterns for mushrooms or toadstools but looking at them, I couldn’t help but think that they might be mistaken for something a little X-rated.  Back to the “bud” concept.

I basically took the same pattern as the rose pattern but this time I only cast on 18 stitches.  Then I knit only 6 rows of stockinette.   I finished off just like the author recommended, leaving the 12″ tail and pulling it through the stitches but as I pulled, I formed the curling row of stockinette into a bud shape and secured the tail in the back.  Then I took the other tail and used that to further form the bud and again secured it in the back.  Now I had a nice little bud to attach to the top of my I-cord, nestled between the little “leaf” area formed by my few rows of Chart “C”.

The final effect was this……a 3-dimensional square with a meandering rose vine on one side, two rosebuds on the bottom, and a “trellis” in the upper right corner.  There’s nary a bug in sight and I feel safe to lean over and “smell” the roses without worrying about something crawling out to sting me or scare the bejeezus out of me.  It’s a modification that works for me.  And if you also are someone who doesn’t care for bugs on your afghan, perhaps this little discussion will inspire you to tackle a modification of your own.

Judy Sumner Afghan Square – Take Three

Thanksgiving is over and I’ve pretty much finished catching up with the laundry and straightening up the house.  That means it is time to get out the Great American Aran Afghan book again and tackle the Judy Sumner square once more.  This is the square that our group is supposed to be finishing before our next class meeting.  I’m telling you…..a few weeks on the back burner and it’s like I’ve never seen it before.  Oy!

The first thing I did was dig out my handy dandy cable cheat card that I made up earlier.  I am practicing doing cables without a cable needle and this little card helps remind me of the tricks to it.

I’m also on “Take Three” of my attempt to do a pattern modification.  I was never very keen on knitting that honking big spider or those little flies or bees or whatever insects those are at the top of the square.  I started out giving it the old college try but decided that I would leave out the spider and just knit the “X” which are the spider’s legs and then come up with some sort of 3-dimensional flower to applique over the “X” in place of the spider.  Well, after struggling with those silly twisted cable stitches for several rows, I decided that I had better things to do than crawl along, torturing myself stitch by stitch, row by row on this square.  I looked the pattern over again and decided to try another approach.  “Take Three” is going to be leaving out all the bugs and forgetting the “X” from the point at which I became frustrated.  Thus, I am doing plain purl stitches for Chart “C” on the right side of the square and plain stockinette stitches on the wrong side of the square for Chart “C”.  I was not about to go back and frog the darn thing to take out the little bit of the “X” that I had knit so I’ve decided that I shall knit up two I-cord “stems” and applique those onto the front up to the little “blips” that might resemble “buds” if you use your imagination.  And thus a unique “design element” is born.  I’ll still do the honeycomb pattern which is Chart “D” on the top right corner because the chart looks rather pleasant to knit.

I’m finding several tricks to be indispensable for knitting up this square.  The first trick is to sketch out a chart sequence line.  This really helps you keep it straight in your mind as to which chart comes next as you are knitting along, because you don’t want to fall into the trap of following the same chart sequence when you are coming back on the wrong side of the square.  (Ask me how I know!)  For example, if you are knitting up your border stitches and then Chart A, Chart C, Chart B, Chart A and then the ending border stitches on the right side of the square, then when you come back on the wrong side of the square you will be reversing that sequence.  Thus, you will knit the border stitches, Chart A, Chart B, Chart C, Chart A, and then the border stitches.

The other trick is to keep a row count completed by chart for each row.  This is really handy because you might be working row 6 of Chart C when you are working row 10 of Chart A.  You won’t be working the same row for every chart.  It can get mightly confusing if you don’t do this.  Trust me!  You don’t have to come up with anything fancy.  Simple hash marks under the chart letters will do.

And so I’m off to the races (well, crawling is more like it) once again on this square.  I must say that after knitting a garter stitched shawl over the past month which was blissfully mindless, this constant need for concentration is hard to get used to.  The Commander is quickly getting the message that he needs to tiptoe past and NOT interrupt me if he sees me knitting with charts spread out all around.