Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

My Left Thumb!

Will I ever learn!  
Never, never knit to a Christmas deadline!

During the Stay-cation with my grand dogs I set a goal to finish the two kid sweaters I am trying to complete for Christmas.  With hours and hours of knitting time available, I felt this goal was do-able.  After all - my grand daughter's sweater just needs two short sleeves and 3 buttons.  My grand nephew's top down sweater was almost to the point where you split out for the sleeves.

And I have 10 whole days available!!  I can do this!!!

Sadly, my left thumb feels different.  For me lots of knitting does not create over-use problems in my hands.  I feel lucky ... especially when reading about the repetitive use injuries of other crafters.  But my grand nephew's project requires more left thumb effort than normal.  My thumb is a little cranky right now.

Photo Credit: Ravelry.Com
Designer's sample

The pattern is called Miracle Sweater by Nicole Montgomery.  I love the gender neutral look of the garment, the dense feel of the fabric created, the jacket-like style, and the unique stitch itself.  I also love that the proceeds of the purchased pattern are donated to a charity.

Up close Twisted Basket stitch pattern.
The first thing I noticed was that although the stitch was uncomplicated to create - for some darn reason "unknitting" the stitch (a function often needed to correct mistakes) was difficult to do.  I did several gauge swatches - to get gauge - but also to learn and practice unknitting the Twisted Basket Stitch so I could fix errors when they occurred.  I never reached a level of comfort in that unknitting effort for this stitch (actually not one single time.)

My progress to date.  Sleeves will need to be picked
up and knitting at some point.
Regardless, I was not deterred by that failure.  I started the sweater anyway, determined to avoid mistakes.  I, of course, made a mistake within the first 5 rows of the woven pattern and made the problem even worse trying to correct it.  So I ripped out those 5 rows and started again - learning from that mistake, convinced I would, at least, not repeat that particular error again.

And I didn't.  I made a different mistake!  You see, the stitches are stacked on top of each other in a very specific order.  Within 5 rows I made a stacking mistake - and one whole row along the back between the sleeve sections - was wrong.  And it clearly showed!  I couldn't unpack even a single stitch successfully and now I had a whole row of stitches that were wrong.  Damn.

So I made a creative decision to hide that row of errors under the generous collar by tacking the collar down so the wrong row can't be seen.  It was an option I considered before I made the error because the collar had a lot of "bounce" in it and probably wouldn't rest easily on the shoulders when worn without tacking.  Now that decision was finalized and it killed two birds with one stone!  Excellent!!

Second problem solved (without ripping out my progress.) I plowed on.

But there are limits.  At this point, if I cannot fix or hide an error that can only be corrected by ripping out, I will stop this project and choose another pattern ... I don't want to start completely over.  Finding this pattern took a lot of time at the beginning.  And I still like it.

When the third error rolled around (surprised? ... not me) I somehow miraculously managed to de-construct the stitch - and mostly get it right.  Right enough to be acceptable to the casual eye.  Not perfect, but acceptable.

Is that the end of the errors knitting this beautiful stitch?  No chance - the risk is still very very much there.  But if I can avoid the blinding frustration that grows with each error maybe I can avoid pitching this project deep into my trash can.  It wouldn't be the first time I pitched yarn, a partially complete project and the pattern into the garbage.

I secretly planned to maybe make this same sweater for my grand daughter at some point.  I really love the look of the stitch, and I love my grand daughter beyond all measure, BUT, no second sweater in this pattern for me - I also love my left thumb because without it - knitting would be very very hard.

Finally, there is one other small problem with this stitch.  Besides eating up a lot of yarn (which I was prepared for), it eats up lot of time.   A . LOT . OF . TIME.  In the picture above, the middle white markers show where I began 5 days ago.  Each day was about 4-5 hours of knitting.  That is 20 to 25 hours of knitting on a child's size 3T sweater.  While I was knitting the gauge swatch I could see it was time consuming - but I figured that as I got better with the stitch, I would get faster ... and I did.  But now I see how grossly off I was on time needed.  I still have 4 inches of body to do beyond the lower edge - and 2 full sleeves!

When I researched this pattern in Ravelry I saw comments like "beautiful," "worth the effort," "heirloom piece," and "appealing."  The other observations were "tedious," "time consuming," "patience needed."  All the statements are true.  My mistake?  I put more importance on the positive statements rather than the negative ones.

And my thumb?  It cramped a bit this morning.  A sign that I am pushing it too much?  You betcha!  So today I am blogging about knitting and not knitting - giving this vital appendage of my body needed for knitting - my left thumb - a day off!

Did you know that if you are a touch typist like me - 
the left thumb does absolutely nothing when typing? 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Stay-cation with my grand dogs

Well, here I am on another Stay-cation with my grand dogs ... and extended 10 day stay-cation ... and I am on day 5 as I write.

On a previous stay-cation with my furry grand babies I waxed poetic on how restful and free these stays are.

He is a little large to sit on my lap, but his head fits just fine.

Liv is even larger.  She seldom sits by me, except for the first 24 hours when she is feeling a
bit lost by the absence of her owners.

I sleep at my son's house, I stay until about noon each day, when I drive to my home (about a 20 minutes away) to check in on my husband and to see he has dinner - then I return back to the dogs around 5 or 6 to spend the evening till noon the next day.  During these times, the only things scheduled are making these trips, making dinner and maybe a load of laundry.  The rest of the time is mine.  Knitting, binge watching TV series and dog love.

Except this time!

We have had a few problems medical problems - dog medical problems - this time.

Olivia, Liv for short, takes these absences of her family very personally.  She is a rescue.  She has abandonment issues I am sure.  She gets diarrhea - sometimes bloody diarrhea - when her owners are absent on trips.  This time it was 'normal' diarrhea, because they started her on medications before they left - and - also an additional medication should it be needed.  It was!  This problem is under control and she is adjusting.  She loves grandma (me).  But I am second best.  She can take second best when she has no choice.  On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being a scuzzy scum-ball of a human who hates dogs ... I will be raised from my normal position of 2.0 to 1.5 by the time her 'parents' return.  She is also the smart dog.  Very very smart.  Scary smart.  So I will never be #1 because she will never forget her resucers!  My son and daughter-in-law.  She will never be abandoned again.  If something should happen to my children - I would take her!  But she doesn't know that.  Poor baby.  I am happy with being 1.5 in her life for this 10 days.

Now, Rags!  The total opposite of Liv.  He has never been abandon.  In fact, my son paid thousands of dollars for his little butt from the breeder - his little English Bull Dog butt!  He is a lot of things:  very self confident, very energetic, very determined, very stubborn, VERY Bull Dog!  Except that as a full blooded English Bull Dog, he comes with all the typical inherited English Bull Dog medical issues.  I arrived 5 days ago to dog sit.  He was fine.  Three days ago he was licking his paws.

The start of a swelling in his left foot between the toes.

I noticed a swelling between his toes on one foot.  He has had these before, Interdigital Cysts.  I also noticed that one of the face wrinkles was red and weepy - and not a pretty color when spread open.  Two days ago I got him into his vet - a family vet who knows us well.  Three feet had cysts - one foot was infected and his wrinkle was infected.  We left with an antibiotic shot - good for 2 weeks - ointment for the toes and face and instructions.  Orders to return in a week.  Today things look little better, but one of his feet had some bleeding.  It has stopped now but ...

So here is what he looks like when I am gone - visiting my husband!  Pretty sad!

It is the only way to keep him from licking his toes in my absence.

And when I return - there is much joy!

They have a very large fenced in yard where they can safely
run and be crazy.

So this Stay-Vacation has included some nursing duties!  Good thing I have previous medical training - and I am not shy of diarrhea, blood, or icky green fluid build ups in a facial wrinkle.  And I am as determined and persistent as he is ... He sees me coming with tissues and he knows its wrinkle dab clean up time - and he goes in the other direction!!  Ha!  Grandma the enforcer is on the job!

Where do I rate on that 1 to 5 scale with him?  Remarkably I am sitting in #1 right now.  He is a smart bulldog - a fact he keeps hidden.  He is a forgiving bulldog - a fact he demonstrates all the time.  He is not worried about being abandoned.  He doesn't even know what "abandon" means.  He looks better today!  'Looks' are all I have to go on - because he acts very self confident, very energetic, very determined, very stubborn, VERY Bull Dog - even with his problems! Haha!

I know I will slip to #2 when his mom and dad return.  I am ok with that.

A Solid #2
That's me!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Picture a Prairie Dog

I seem to have fallen into another blogging slump.  
I guess my writing mojo just becomes dormant with some regularity.  
I have come to see this behavior as "learning" and "accepting" things about myself
 rather than a fault or lack of consistency!

How's that for talking my way out of something
 I characterized as a failure
in the past!

The slump is not over, but as I trek a round reading and commenting on the blogs I follow, I realize that connecting occasionally with my own blog is probably a good idea.

Like the Praire Dog that pokes his head out of his hole to take a look around ... this post is my head poking out.  Consider it a mini update and an indication that I still live!
  1. I am fine.  Not moody or depressed or over busy.  Just not blog inspired.
  2. I am still knitting like a banshie.  Christmas is coming and my gifts need to be completed.  Next year - if I am crazy enough to insist on knitting for Christmas - I am NOT going to use those fingering weight yarns no matter how alluring or temping the project appears - sport or worsted weight knits up so much faster.  Pictures of finished projects will take their place in their own blog posts at some point in the future.
  3. I made another trip up to Long Island with my sister to visit my mom's friend who is 94 years old.  She is still mentally pretty good and the trip was great fun.  She is plagued with some medical issues, but her brain still seems to be working just fine.  This trip left me pondering if I could choose only one life status in my very senior old age which would be better: mental alertness or physical well being.  A remarkably few people have both in their 90s so it stands to reason I won't be one of the "very few."  In fact, if personal family history is any kind of predictor, I won't have either one.  Could it be a kindness to one's self to not mentally know your are physically failing - rather than witnessing the total disintegration of your physical self - while your alert mental self watches?  Ugh! That is pretty depressing now that I think on it.  Better start pondering something else - like when does "Dancing With The Stars" return to TV.  I feel better all ready!  
  4. My grand daughter continues to grow in leaps and bounds.  A joy to all my senses!  These first two years in a child's life are just miraculous.  Looking back one year ago - the changes are amazing.  It may be time for another grand daughter post.
  5. My exercise mojo has its ups and downs as well.  My left knee (surgery 2017) gets cranky at times.  The heat here is brutal - thank you Climate Change.  And my very expensive (but old) walking shoes don't seem to be giving me the support I need anymore - resulting in sore feet if I am standing too long.  I can fix the shoes and will do so this month.  Just wish they didn't cost $150.   The weather should break positively starting next month - and if I ice my knee before and after walking, it is manageable.  I even re-joined the senior gym so I could use the treadmill (which I hate with a passion.). The facility is air conditioned, new and cheap by gym standards so my excuses are pretty few for not going.  So "struggle" is the right word to describe my efforts to stay reasonably fit.
  6. Eating wise - this is my absolutely favorite time of year.  Produce is flavorful and abundant.  Some meals I just eat vegetables.  So good.  And my very favorite is corn on the cob and tomatoes.  I think I could live on just those two things alone.  Throw in a few garbanzo or kidney beans and it would probably be pretty healthy as well.  And coffee.  Need my coffee.
So ... there you go!  All caught up on my boring life!  And just to clarify ... boring is A-OK for me.  I have lived a long enough to have had my share of "events."  I discovered that is better to figuratively live in the middle path of life rather than to soar high and sink low.

Back again when my mojo returns or a "prairie dog poke out" seems appropriate.