Thursday, December 23, 2010


Looked like she didn't even think about it, just reached into the top of the basket and pulled out a pair of purple ankle-warmers. Or lavender, or periwinkle, there are a lot of names for purple. I made some kind of inane remark about having a lot of K-State friends (and it does seem to me that the purple ankle-warmers go pretty fast) and we both laughed.

At home, finding a pair of purple ankle-warmers I hadn't yet finished sewing together (because the yarn came out so short at the final end that I'm going to have to get out a crochet hook to finish that pair) it belatedly dawned on me that she had chosen purple, not because of K-State, but because of KNOX! K-State doesn't have a monopoly on purple.


Friday, December 10, 2010


I had a lot of fun with my basket of ankle-warmers at my writing group Christmas party this week. It's always intersting to note which colors of ankle-warmers (boot toppers) are chosen.

If I offer you a pair of ankle-warmers, don't be afraid you'll hurt my feelings if you refuse. Just don't look back. That look of pity on my face won't be for me, it will be for you, knowing that you have no clue why your feel and ankles are always cold, and why you can't get rid of the cold in your head.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I've found another person willing to wear a pair of ankle-warmers -- probably the most unconventional of all my nieces and nephews.

Not only is this person willing to wear a pair of ankle-warmers, he declares he's willing for all the world to see, and may even wear them OUTSIDE his trouser legs.

There's more: He might even be willing to wear OUTSIDE his trouser legs a pair of ankle-warmers with the colors of the local football team -- red and white. So I've knit up some in both colors, AND a special pair with red-and-white stripes.

This nephew lives several hundred miles away, which means I may never know if he makes good on his word, but in the meantime, he's wrapped me around his little finger.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


That's when I get my knitting done -- well, some of it.

I'm not like that dedicated Canadian knitter who carries a sock project with her wherever she goes and once lost a ball of fine blue merino yarn down an elevator shaft, but whenever I'm faced with making a telephone call that is likely to put me in a queue line the first thing I do is pick up a current project.

It's a bit of a trick to tuck the telephone under a shoulder, but once settled it does very little to slow down my pace. Normally, I wouldn't even mention that I'm knitting while I'm talking -- or waiting -- but once I got so angry at the transaction I snapped back at the service representative by telling her that I had already spent so much time explaining my problem to so many people I had been able to knit fourteen rows on a rather complicated shawl.

The last part was a lie -- I don't knit complicated things. The fourteen rows might have been an exaggeration as well, but I heard a little gasp and I knew she had gotten my drift. I regretted later that I had not asked the service representative about her current knitting project.

Maybe even given her my blog address.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Well, figuratively speaking, and about ten months out of the year you'll find me wearing ankle warmers.

I HATE cold ankles.

Ankle warmers can be worn discreetly underneath (and virtually undetectable) pants' legs. Remember when Scarlet made herself a promise -- I'll never have cold ankles again?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


How can there be a difference, you ask.

Like most knitters, I often have more than one project going at the same time. Normally, I have one project downstairs next to my comfortable chair, and another upstairs next to my recliner. Never waste a minute.

Recently, in order to have the right size needles, I picked up a pair of metal -- I think it's aluminum -- needles, and rediscovered something I had forgotten since becoming accustomed to wooden needles. Because metal needles create less friction, they are much faster.

They do have a major drawback, regretfully. At night the shiny reflections can cause considerable eye strain, hence as long as I'm using metal needles, I'll be forced to divide my projects into day knitting and night knitting.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I've figured out that if I did nothing but knit the entire waking hours of a day, I could knit a skein a day. That means no stopping to eat, drink, read the mail, or take a nap.

Of course, that would mean that no writing would get done, either.

Friday, October 1, 2010


The Yarn Barn in Lawrence was my destination yesterday. It's a rare opportunity I get to go there, but always delightful. It's about the most full-scale yarn shop I've ever seen, I mean, the real works, spinning, weaving, felting, makes me feel humble since I can only do garter or stockinette stitch on very simple projects.

(Well, my aunt, a master knitter, once made me do a sweater with cables, which I detested and have never done again.)

I was searching for Kansas yarn, and learned that there is no Kansas yarn produced in great quantities. The closest is the Brown Sheep yarn company in Mitchell, NE.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Well, I exaggerate. Shawls aren't really more complicated (oh, they can be, but then you have to start counting stitches).

The below-mentioned shawl in muted blues and greens turned out to have a lovely, fluid feel to it. The yarn was soft merino (which I think comes from a certain breed of sheep, but what do I know?) I took it to a planning meeting, and it was bought on the spot -- money to go into the treasury to pay for the convention.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I'm trying to remember -- does Auntie Em wear a shawl?

Certainly not when she's out by the hen house with Uncle Henry, putting the new chicks into coops just ahead of the looming storm.

Maybe later -- there's those scenes after the house and everyting else has been carried up into the sky, remember the despicable Miss Almira Gulch riding her bike in the wind, and Auntie Em swinging back and forth in her rocking chair, blissfully knitting as if she were sitting in her parlor firmly on the ground?

Didn't Auntie Em wear a shawl then?

The blue-green shaded triangular shawl I've just finished is for the silent auction at the 2010 Kansas Authors Club on October 1-3, but I'm tempted to keep it for myself. Only, you know Auntie Em would be wearing brown, not blue.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Still making ankle warmers. I have some that are KU red and blue, some that are purple, even some that are orange (Baker U.).

I did branch out and have completed a lovely triangular shawl in shades of subtle blues and greens -- it will be available at the silent auction at the Kansas Authors Club convention October 1-3 in Lawrence.

Another project will not appear at the silent auction. In fact, I'm thinking of ripping it out and starting anew. It is sort of a shawl, constructed with eight wedges which were enlarged with one random added stitch at each round. About drove me crazy. Couldn't remember whether I had made the extra stitch or not and was always checking back along the needle.

Some gorgeous variegated cherry pink and cream yarn caught my eye, and it's quickly becoming a triangular scarf, which may be in the silent auction, should I finish in time.

That's what's keeping me busy, the "One Free Nation, Many Voices" conference. Check it out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010



I had one of two panels of my new project almost finished, and I could see that the panel was not going to be either wide or long enough. Even the clerk at the knit shop admitted that the written pattern for the jacket/shawl did not match the illustration. And it was easy to see that three skeins of yarn were not going to be sufficient. I went back home and with the skein wrapper in hand telephoned back with the color and dye lot.

Waited for the order to be filled.

Several days later went back to the knit shop to pick up the extra skein of yard -- did I say this yarn is Peruvian? Lovely. Soft, delightful to the touch. And a heavenly denim-y color. I should mention that the knitting was being done with two strands of thread at the same time. The clerk was knitting her jacket/shawl with two different colors of thread, producing a mottled effect.

Drat! The new skein, in fact the two new skeins, since apparently the minimum order is two skeins, were a different dye lot. The color difference was slight, but still enough to make a difference.

So what was the logical thing to do? Buy both of the new skeins, of course. Knit the panels using one skein from one dye lot and another skein from the second dye lot.

And face the task of unraveling the first panel. Took me hours to complete the unraveling. I tried several different approaches to the problem, but they were all tedious. Some involved stretching the yarn across the room. The two strands had not been twisted together, but they clung to each other like entwined vines.

I have come close to completing the first panel, but I have not bound off the stitches in case I decide to add a few more rows. I'll make that decision when I am near to completing the second panel and can better envision how the finished garment will look.

Thinking of how stunning the finished garment will look keeps me going, but it sure takes a long time. When I do finish, I'll be more than ready to go back to ankle warmers.

Monday, April 19, 2010


You know how it is -- you walk into the knit shop, only needing one little skein for a small project, like ankle warmers, the construction of which requires very little imput from the brain, and you walk out with $45.00 worth of Peruvian yarn and the pattern for a short jacket.

You didn't even spend much time thinking about it. You walked around the corner of the display shelves, and there it was, hanging about eye level, a jacket/shawl sort of thing, only you didn't especially like the color and even more enticingly, one of the clerks was making the same garment.

The pattern doesn't look too complicated, and if you have any difficulty, well, there's the clerk, quite a few stitches into the project, which is good, because if you have any trouble figuring it out, there she is, a ready resource. (Well, ezcept on Sunday or Monday when the shop is closed -- oh, how agonizing to have to wait until the shop opens again on Tuesady morning -- it is true, a harrowing experience, should it ever befall to you, yarn withdrawal symptoms.)

Even as I cast on 94 stitches, the highest amount, the biggest sise in the pattern, I knew the piece would not be long enough. Hardly fourteen rows, and I decided to take it all apart. Done with two threads, even more tedious to unravel.

I added 30 stitches, and then because I still had some length in the tail, add six more stitches -- 130 in all.

This is going to take a lot longer than a pair of ankle warmers.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


When was the last time I sat down and watched a television program? Normally, I hear far more than I see. Knitting gives me an excuse to sit down and listen to the programs.

The only programs that really capture my attention are a couple of Britcoms. One of them stars Nicholas Lyndhurst as a home remodeler, can't think of the name. The other is As Time Goes By, which usually has my full attention, especially the outdoor scenes. I'm convinced the home the couple lives in is in Bayswater, and that I have actually walked several times along that street.

Tonight as I watched I was trying to unravel a knitting project I've decided is not working. It was knit with double yarn, which made the unraveling all the more difficult. The garment is an assymetrical shawl type thing. I keep going back to the knitshop to look at a model on display.

Shirley, who works at the shop, has finished the same garment, and helped me get started. Today I remarked to her that the garment on display is not the same garment in the instruction booklet. She responded, almost like we were sharing a secret, that she had discovered the same discrepancy. Further, she was not satisfied and was considering unravelling all of hers and starting over.

I had only gotten about half of the first panel done before deciding to unravel and start over. And I had figured out the pattern. Now, there's something that takes my full concentration, can't allow myself to be distracted by television.

What I did learn is that I shouldn't be knitting when I should be purling.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Bamboo needles wear out. I should have been prepared. I bought my first pair very reluctantly, thinking that the shafts would not be sturdy enough, and they soon became my favorites. Metal knitting needles have become my absolutely, avoided-whenever-possible, last choice, and plastic needles are hardly any better.

Sadly, I've now discovered, the points will eventually show some wear. The erosion is visible, as the points are now misshapen, but even worse, the new irregular shape creates an inaudible click at every stitch. ("Inaudible click" might be an oxymoron, but you knitters know what I mean.)

On a website about recycling I once read that any clever person could find a new use for the chopsticks they received at an oriental restaurant by converting them into knitting needles. Shaping the points was the hardest part, it was admitted, and the resulting needles might be a tad shorter, but after all, the motivation was recycling, not knitting.

The next question is, how does one recycle used bamboo knitting needles? Put them aside for the moment. Sooner or later someone, perhaps a child, will express an interest in learning to knit. Start them out with the the less-than-perfect bamboo needles, but point out that they will want to get a new pair of their own as soon as they get the hang of the craft.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


All you knitters know what uncooperative yarn is -- it's a curse and an abomination. If it's goat yarn, you could blame the source. Or camel yarn -- I had some of that yarn one time. But acrylic stuff? I've used other yarns of this brand before, and had no trouble, but this particular skein has been a trouble-maker from the start. Non-knitters never seem to understand knitting from the inside out, where you pull the yarn from the center of the skein. Some manufacturers make it easy to find that inside end of the skein, others like to turn it into a game of hide-and-seek. This elusive end didn't reveal itself until I had pulled out nearly half of the yarn from the center. Your immediate goal becomes knitting up all those loose strands until you reach that satisfying moment when you can neatly pull the yarn from the center. I had almost finished the hat before I reached that point.

I expected smooth going, uninterrupted ease. But no way. That stubborn skein still refused to let go of its yarn. Every little tug to get enough length to continue knitting met with fierce resistence. I'm three-quarters through the skein now -- how long will it continue to fight me back?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


It's amazing how much knitting I can finish while sitting in front of my computer screen. And I'm not just looking up new knitting patterns.

Just got my computer back from the repair shop, but drat, it's no faster than it was before. Still takes an incredible amount of time to switch to the next screen.

While I wait, I'm churning out hats in several sizes, some blue baby caps, and some red and blue (think KU) and mixed purple (think K-State) hats for both kids and adults. Not to mention the old tried and true ankle warmers, legwarmers, boot toppers.

We are facing changes in the way television, telephone, and internet services are provided for this household. If the speed is improved, it sure will eat into my knitting time.