Grand Prismatic Spring

I decided to drive to the Grand Prismatic Spring today. It was, as expected, busy. I just went with it and parked down on the side of the road with the rest of the rabid tourists :). It was not as smelly as I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, there were wisps of that over-boiled Easter egg smell, but otherwise it was just steamy. The walkways were very busy and I must admit that I was a bit nervous with the narrowness of the walkway. The tourists not very considerate of the width of the walkway and the near death experience that was right below. I managed to watch them as well as my own feet, and get great pictures along with trying not to worry about the plausibility of a sudden, burning death. I’m being overly dramatic, but it is a very narrow walkway with a lot of people on it trying to get that must have picture.

It was great besides my paranoia :). The drive there and back was not too bad and I got to see a Bison who was right next to the road. You do know that your supposed to stay at least 75 feet away, but everybody was pulled over and standing right next to this huge animal. Luckily for them it was blithely going about its lunch. A few Elk made an appearance, but I was persistent with my mission, the Grand Prismatic Spring. I wasn’t going to let anything slow me down. I’ll leave off Old Faithful for another road trip.

Knitting Brew: Typical Yarn Shopping

Typical yarn shopping

  1. See sparkly yarn, drool
  2. Hesitantly touch sparkly yarn, squeeeee
  3. Have sudden hysterics realizing yarn is VERY expensive, but would look great as a trendy hat
  4. Sudden panic attacks at all the yarn you already have
  5. Decide you MUST have it anyway and head toward the checkout counter
  6. Spy a new set of stitch markers you don’t have, add them to your over loaded arms
  7. Realize you do not have a pattern in mind and head over to the knitting books
  8. Pick out the perfect pattern, then realize you need more yarn
  9. Get more yarn
  10. Look at the pattern again and wonder if you have that size needle, length, material choice?
  11. Take 10 minutes stressing about whether to get the bamboo needles or the new shiny, and expensive, set you don’t have
  12. Get new shiny expensive set rationalizing you will get a lot of use out of them for the money
  13. Finally get to the checkout line and have to wait in line
  14. Spy a really cool button you know would look great on the sweater you started last year for your sister, which is still in the beginning stages, but you swear you will get to this year
  15. Add button to your overflowing stash of wonderfulness
  16. Plonk it all down and hand over your Visa etc. excitedly
  17. Walk out of the store, unwillingly, since you just spotted a new style of knitting bag you don’t have.
  18. Cry in the car realizing you have ANOTHER project already waiting at home, but this one is so new and fun.
  19. Rush home and start new project, pushing the latest new project into its new project knitting bag for LATER.

Work in Progress that is NOT in Progress

Work In Progress

Design by design,

Stitch by Stitch, magic happens,

Frogging ruins days.

Well, I think I’m being too impatient with this pattern book. I started over, twice, and once only did the lace pattern to see if I was doing something wrong, I was but we won’t mention that. Now all is good and I’m afraid to start again. What if it still looks horrible?

Also, who write a pattern book that does not follow any type of pattern in the directions. Of course, there are the charts to follow A, B, and C. These are easy enough to figure out. There is the written instructions as well if a person does not like pattern charts or who cannot read them yet.

But, BUT, when the instructions say cast on this many and then follow this pattern set up, then follows that with seemingly simple instructions, you would think everything would flow. No, of course not.

The charts seem to expand upon one another, and you would think that the written instructions would include a cascading pattern that would incorporate all three into the design, but no. It only tells you to cast on so many and use chart A till you have so many stitches then start the the lacy edge. It makes no mention of chart B or C until the lace edge, but if you only follow the Chart A pattern for the body, it looks jacked.

Sigh, I think at this point I’m going to do it my way with chart C and see where it goes. Anything is better than beating my head against this pattern book. And the patterns are so beautiful too. Sad.

Work In Progress Continued

Well, it is coming along pretty well. I’m not sure if I have made a mistake, because my lace does not look quite like the picture, but I think I have followed the pattern okay. O’well, I’m going with it anyway. If, once it gets blocked, it still looks wonky I will give it another go to see if it is the pattern or me. probably me. 🙂

Here is the first part of the pattern. I have completed two of the four repeats of the pattern in the above picture. IMG_0143

My Awesome Adventure in Knitting Boobies

It is scarves, hats, and the occasional lace piece that make their way into my finished things bags. What to do with all this stuff? I have various colors of pinks, love me some pink, blues, black and purple yarn calling out to me to do something with it. Sigh. It is all too much. The multiple bags of yarn always call to my knitting heart, but what to do with it all? Then one day on Facebook, the world of everything, whether you need it or not, I see Awesome Breastforms. A bright light went off above my head. Aha! Here is a cause that I can get behind that will eat up some of my stash! At least, that was the idea.

Every crafter has a ton of extra material that they swear they will use one day only to find that they cannot live without this or that. This was nothing different. The only difference was it was not for me or for a family member, but for complete strangers.

“What do I know about making knitted anything that requires either using my hated double pointed sticks or figuring out how to do magic loop?” I think as I stare at the PDFs of the pattern for the knitted boobs.

“Well, there is nothing for it. I’ll have to learn something that scares the snot out of me,” I said, and I did. Magic loop is not as bad as you might think. It allows the knitter to make small articles like socks, hats, and amigarumi animals without having to use those damn double pointed sticks. As I perused the Facebook site and waited for my admittance into this new group, I watched various YouTube videos on how to do a magic loop. Once that was done and I got approved from the website’s moderators, a great group of ladies, I was on my way.

Let me say something about this site. Awesomebreastform.org consists of a small, but growing group of like-minded crafty ladies who want to give back something of themselves to those who have suffered from breast cancer. Millions of women each year are diagnosed with this disease and lose their curves from mastectomies or lumpectomies. We at Awesome Breastforms create and give away forms of various sizes to ladies all over the world, giving these women back their curves.

I got my first order back in September 2015 and was so happy. I had just learned how to do a magic loop with one really long double pointed needle and was off to the races. My lady was from Canada, and I was so excited to be able to make this boob for her. She only required a B size, and I worked diligently on that form, making sure that it fit the exact standards of the group guidelines. I took a few pictures for my own memories and sent it off.

“That was great! What is the next one?” I excitedly said to myself. On to the Facebook group I went.
I must tell you that there are two versions of the form that can be ordered from the website, one with a nipple and one without. I do not like the nipple form I made too much. I will have to work on that until I am happy with it and then and only then will I accept an order from a lady that wants a nipple form. My first test form, for approval, was accepted by the moderators, but I felt it was bulky and not very well done. So, no nipple forms for me. I was working on my second form, a size D, when I got a lovely letter from my lady, Linda.

“It was pure delight when I opened it and discovered the ‘beautifully knitted boob.’ Thank you so much for your hands of love in crafting this uplifting gift. May God bless you as you have kindly blessed me and many others!”

This letter was unexpected but was beautiful and kept me going when the magic loop technique got annoying. I was so moved. This is why I knit, I decided. Making hats and scarves for me or family members is one thing, but to actually make a difference for someone just through yarn and a desire to give back–that is why I do it.

I still love those long winter nights sitting on the couch with a coffee, always have to have coffee, or cookies, cakes, anyway, picking out the next project and anticipating the enjoyment that I get from making something with my own hands. Seeing the piece lengthen and feeling the weight of it as progress is made makes knitting more, well, awesome than not doing it out of frustration.

The awesome breastform group is growing rapidly, and it is such a great group of women. Like any knitting group that I have physically been to, there are plenty of people to offer help or encouragement. It is a wonderful environment. The ladies, and a few men, are so giving and do not expect anything from you except to show and tell your current project. The feedback from the women who receive these forms is amazing. Amanda G. of Stamps AR requested a form and could not be happier that we do this. “Just thank you! I have been so hesitant to go get fitted for one of those heavy silicone types. I just felt that I would not like them. So, I have been going one-sided since May. I don’t mind most of the time but sometimes, you just need to be even. These sound wonderful!”

There are so many other wonderful sentiments like Amanda’s on the website. Reading many of them puts tears in my eyes. I feel blessed to have found Awesome Breastforms and can use my knitting skills to make something truly wanted and welcome.

Thousands of forms have been sent out over the past seven months this website has been active. I get to be a part of something momentous that is growing every day. We give women their curves back. I get to make women feel beautiful and feel good about themselves after such a troubling experience. Unfortunately, cancer strikes without reason, and for those who have had to suffer, I am glad to know that they are not alone. There are men and women, crafters, who are willing to give out of their own pockets and time to give women back their curves.

Lace Knitting: Love It, Hate it, Wear It

It is too complicated. What! I’m off by how many stitches? You’ve got to be kidding me!? Where did all these extra yarn overs come from? These are only a few of the curses knitters say when knitting lace.

Lace knitting is its own hemisphere. New knitters hover around its mysterious landscapes, afraid to land and possibly be eaten alive. It seems so hard what with all the openness and scary structure involved in its construction. It only takes a little courage though.

I remember when I started learning lace. I was always off somehow no matter how much I counted my stitches and went by the pattern. It was so frustrating. Then one day I had an ah ha moment. You know, those moments when everything works out and all is rainbows and candy canes. I wish it happened spontaneously, but no. A nice woman at my local knitting group told me some wisdom that I have lived by since, “count your stitches between markers” and I have never looked back.

Lace is a demanding task master. It hordes your time and regardless of the mission you are on, can take you down. It bleeds your soul and at the same time lifts you up so high that you cannot even see that extra yarn over or the slipped stitch. You don’t care! It is a beautiful experience, until you want to throw it across the room or bunch it up and stuff it deep into your knitting bag. It is so frustrating.

Knitters love it so much. It is a crazy path to follow, but so easy to get sucked into. Once you have learned the basic stitches you think “Wow, this is great! I can do anything. Let’s try lace.” And then you go completely nuts.

Only knitters know the feeling of longing when another persons walks past with a fabulously knitted shawl or cardigan. It is a secret drive that pulls knitters down lanes that normally they would never have the courage to go. Beginning knitters look at those wonderfully intricate shawls and drool and only hope one day they will be skilled and brave enough to attempt it. Or more rightly, they will hide behind their knitting bag and tremble at the thought of SSK or K2tog, or even a dreaded yarn over.

Once though, lace has been conquered, sort of, knitters dance down he lance of possibility. No longer are they relegated to simple stocking net scarves and plain hats; they can achieve the impossible and create a fabulous hat or spectacular shawl that will blow the other knitters away. Walking into the next knitting group will be the highlight of your whole day. The other knitters will oooh and ahh over your new creation. You will be feeling euphoric.

Then the next project will humble you, but you will not give up. Lace knitting is an adventure. One that gives and takes, but it is so worth while. Afterward, you get to walk around wearing a beautifully intricate piece waiting to be recognized for your skill. The next big thing! Until you see someone wearing a knitted piece so phenomenal you race back to find that pattern and start the process over.

The Treasure Hunt of the Disappearing Stitch Markers

What is it about stitch markers? I can see some of them being attached to currently moldering projects. Those that you find down in the dark, dank depths of project bags of christmas past. Those that you pick out of a bag like the proverbial rabbit. Ah Ha! I knew this was somewhere. Damn, I’m going to have to frog it. Why you may ask? Because you don’t remember where the instructions are or even worse you know perfectly well where they are, but you have no idea where you left off. Sigh

I had to have bought hundreds, ok maybe not hundreds, of stitch markers over the years and this is all I could find. I went through every bag and sleeve that I had, except the boxes, we don’t talk about the boxes.

Side Note: I love going through my bags O stuff. It is like walking through a new yarn store for the first time. All those pretty colors and textures to fondle and gawk at. It is like that going through my own project bags. How many of you have found a fantastic, beautiful skein of yarn and get that rush of discovery and wonder that you feel in the yarn store? It is something special. I have my own store in my stash, tears of joy and frustration run down my face. 🙂

Anyway, stitch markers. They live within a realm of their own and laugh at our attempts to control their travel across our plane of existence.

They do seem to have a mind of their own. You can never find any stitch markers when you need them and if you do, you can never find enough for a project. It is so frustrating. Here you are all ready with a skein of wound yarn, the correct size needles you need, and all you need to find are stitch markers. That is when you get creative. I’ve used safety pins or paper clips before. They all work, but DAMN IT!, that was not what I got them for! I am supposed to be able to use the stitch markers that I buy every time I go to a yarn shop.

Sometimes as I walk down the aisle of the yarn store I stop and stare at all the pretty different ones on display. It is not my intention to by any at that time and it is hard not too, but I think to myself that I have plenty at home. Only to discover when I do get home that they have all taken a vacation in my closet and are laughing at me as they sit on the beach and drink Mai Tais. Damn stitch markers. grump.

So, there I am in the yarn store aisle and drooling over stitch markers like they are the most precious of diamonds. It is a weird phenomenon and only crafters will understand. They are the holy grail. The path of enlightenment in a world of dark corners and pockets of time. They call to me, but I resist, much to my detriment. So many different types and colors. What to do? What to do?

When you do find a stitch marker somewhere in your stash of bags it is like a golden sun has gone of in your soul. YES! you think as you hold it up to the light and relish its splendid color and shape. The visions of new projects dance through your head and you get giddy with anticipation of slipping it on to the needle, then reality sets in and you realize that you need 10 more. ugh.

The Inner Struggle Of A Sock Addict

Knitting socks is a personal event, not a hobby, but an actual event, like a personal war against those who would drive a knitter insane. I have knitted my own personal set of socks successfully, but many of them are a hard fought win or, mostly, a dismal failure. The single lonely sock sits finished while the second socks sits on the needle as a reminder of my failure as a knitter and against the desire to create.
I do not give up though. It is the drive to create that keeps me going back. The inner struggle that only knitters will understand keeps me going back to that frogged pile of yarn. What if I only counted my stitches closer? Could I have stopped the lost traveling stitch if I had put in a life line? What if the pattern is wrong? It will not defeat me!
The idea of losing a stitch drives fear into the heart of any stalwart knitter, even the master knitters. Sock knitting is its own environment completely, even the yarn stash is separate from the main stash. Hats, scarves, shawls, they all have their own pile of yarn, but the sock stash is special. The needles are much slimmer; the yarn can be tiny. There are so many style of knitting for socks the mind of the knitter can be confounded by the vast variety available. I will admit though, beginning a sock is an adventure the I look forward to with inner glee. It seems so simple. Do I make a stockinet stitch leg or should I switch it up with a bit of lace edging? What about cables? Ohhh, cables.
Once I get started everything is happiness and rainbows until the heal. There are so many variables involved. How many heal stitches to do, count the number of stitches you begin with and divide by two, making sure that your row count is correct for the rows the will be picked up. Then, then, try not to drop a stitch because that will make me have to start over, or throw it across the room and staunchly ignore it until it stares at me and I feel guilty. There I said it. It has a mind of its own and it knows it. But, once that first sock is finished it is a happy day, until you realize that you have to create the second one. No! the heinous second sock. That particular evil has a specific name that is dreaded through out the knitter world: Second Sock Syndrome. What is that you may ask? It is the knowledge that the boring sock that you just finished has to be replicated, exactly. The apocalypse would be easier to handle than Second Sock Syndrome. What if I make a mistake? What if I am off on my stitches? What if, gasp!, I mess up completely and never finish the second sock? Which is a very real possibility.
Socks have a life of their own. They rule over the inner mind of the knitter until both socks are complete or you go screaming into the kitchen and set fire to the second sock. Which ever appeals to you, the better. Sock knitting is a deeply personal and interwoven experience with the natural world of the knitter. What if I can’t find the fifth double pointed needle I need for this particular yarn or what if I don’t have enough to finish?
Sock knitting is a passion that many people do not master and I for one am still struggling up the hill of proficiency. The Second Sock Syndrome looms every time I pick up a set of knitting needles with the intent of making something cozy for my feet or, heaven forbid, my family. It is easily the best time had, next to a cozy hat, that I have ever accomplished, and also the most frustrating. But I would never give it up. Happy knitting.