Sunday, April 30, 2006

Preparing for Travel

Well, a few weeks ago the institution where I work again "outlawed" food. We are allowed (in fact, encouraged) to eat the food fed to the inmates. Unfortunately, this consists mainly of high starch, fat free, salt free, sugar free tasteless stuff. It's actually pretty healthy but very high on the carbs. For me the more serious problem is that it is highly blended with soy and wheat both of which make me ill. So I got a doctor's note that allows me to bring in some snacks (fresh veggies, fruit, yogurt) and I eat my lunches outside the fence in the front break room. At the same time they "outlawed" food, they also ruled out our tote bags. They have a box measuring something small (like 8X7X9) and if your bag/purse doesn't fit inside the box, you can't bring in your bag.

So I ordered a cute little opened top tote from LL Bean. Far too expensive but exactly what I needed. I have fallen in love with this little thing in torquoise and black (including my initials) and so for traveling this summer (especially on the planes), I ordered a matching tote with an outside pocket and a zippered top.

On the plane I'm going to have a very organized approach. My big shawl project is going into my check on luggage. My sock project is going into a large ziplock baggie. That baggie is going into the large tote. I'm bringing wooden DP needles so hopefully I will haveNO hassle from the lovely folks working security. I will also bring a self-addressed stamped envelope in case I do.

I'm tempted to do some invisibility shielding as I really hate being hassled. It worked well the last time I flew. But I will have to include everyone traveling with me and quite frankly, they are a rowdy group and will ignore my attempts to make them quiet and wall-floweresque.

Also in the large tote will be soft-sided lunch box containing food for myself and the family on the plane (healthy snacks). My purse will be tucked inside the large tote. An umbrella is going in there somewhere. I'm also tucking in some puzzle books (Sudoko has become a family fav right now), and I will also pack one change of clothing in case my checked luggage goes touring without me.

Flight back... well, the purse comes out and in it's place I hope will be some yarn snagged at a shop while I'm out at the other side of the U.S.

In other NEWS:

I've cast on for the second sock for the soldier's sock project. I am not done with the first one yet, but have decided to bring the second in the pair up to the same point as the first one so I can finish both at almost the same time and either make the same mistakes on both or do them both correctly together.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Spoiled for Life

I decided to use the US 1 rosewood dblpts on the soldier socks instead of trying at this point to work in decreases.

Oh my gracious! It is going to be very, very hard to go back to the birch needles to knit top of the second sock. The rosewoods are so lovely. They feel so nice in my hands. It's very hard to describe the difference but it's sort of like the difference between a Glenfiddich Scotch and Glenmorangie Scotch. Glenfiddich is some nice, smooth stuff and certainly gets the job done, but once you've sampled some Glenmorangie, you likely never willingly go back.

I also see why folks recommend the smaller diameter needles. The fabric is much smoother, much nicer. It's almost imperceptable to the eye, but the fingers really can tell. I'm sure the feet will be happier, too.

I'm thinking of casting on the second sock either tonight, tomorrow or this weekend just to get it going and bring it in line with the first. I will have to invest in a second set of rosewoods in size 1 but I'm now a convert and I don't think I will find the purchase quite a painful. Besides, payday approaches.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Soldier sock progress

Okay, I know this stuff may be boring for some folks, but I enjoy the process of the knitting.

Here is a picture of the first soldier sock so far. John is modeling for us. It looks a little tight to me but he said it feels very comfortable. I'm not thrilled with the top edge but having some feed back from other sock knitters, they tell me with some use, the cast on edge will smooth out and even out.

I mentioned that I'm sort of meditating my way through these socks and am including good wishes of protection for the soldier who will end up wearing it. Many of the knitters chimed in, which I think is pretty cool, and it got pretty Christian pretty fast.

I don't have a problem with that, but I did point out that I'm not Christian and it would be nice if we could go with a generic sort of best wishes note.

The others in the group were really cool about it. Seems like these times are a changin'. Two years ago I would have been run out of the group on my ear for even suggesting that I might be working a spell on these socks or even hinting that I wasn't necessarily "down with God."

There may be hope for America yet. We were founded on the principal of equal rights, freedom from kingship and freedom of religion.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Needling Thoughts

I've been knitting Socks for Soldiers and reading about socks with several other sock groups including the Townies. Most of the knitters on these groups talked about using US sized 0 and 1 to knit socks. I was bumbling along on size 2s and 3s.

I noticed that the little purl bumps from handknitted socks I had did tend to wear at the foot after a long day in hard shoes while standing on concrete floors (one of the pleasures of prison work). Having wool socks really helps with the cold, but the floors are still terribly hard. The knitters on these groups have mentioned a couple of times that using smaller needles makes the bumps smaller, the fabric smoother over all and just make for a more comfortable sock.

So I looked at smaller needles. I found rosewood for something outrageously expensive. But folks raved about them, but I wasn't ready to justify the cost so I kept looking. I found some very inexpensive aluminum needles on eBay in a while set of four different sizes. I ordered them.

And I tried. I really tried to knit with them. But I kept losing the needles. I knit tightly but they kept falling out of the projects. So I went back to the drawing board. I waited for a pay day and I ordered the rosewoods. One set. Just one. In US Size 1.

I have caressed them. I have looked at them. I haven't tried knitting with them yet. I'm fearful. I may break one. I may LOSE one. Then I would cry.

I have a ball of Cherry Tree Hill in red all wound up and waiting for them. But I have to finish the soldier socks first. At least this first pair. I also have to finish the shawl for the eldering at the end of May (that's coming along pretty well and I will post pictures soon). I still have to finish the Ruana I started first.

I've come to hate that yarn. I think it will be fine to wear but I hate knitting with it. I'm thinking that I have step granddaughters who would love to have a poncho and I have nearly enough of this thing done now that it would easily be converted and I would be spared having to do anything with this yarn (except donate it to charity or something). But if I make one poncho, I will have to make two more for the other girls. I wonder if I could convince some other grandmas and great grandmas to help me... probably not. They hate acrylic yarn, too.

Oh yeah, the needles. The link at the top of the page is to a small business that makes nylon and polymer knitting needles. They are very inexpensive. Knitters on the sock group are raving about these things. I may have to order some just to check them out.

But I better use the rosewoods first to make sure that these were worth the purchase. What do you think?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Frustration and delays

Thought that Friday would be the day when John would go off to take his job tests and we would finally sign his contract, but Sgt Deane called this morning while I was at DMV with my youngest getting his picture ID. His supervisors are questioning whether or not my divorce papers actually give me full custody.

So I took the day off from work and went to the court house. I talked to the clerk and they told me that it does indeed state that (but as I read it myself, I can see where the Army may wonder about this a bit). I also learned that the circuit court clerk was supposed to have filed it in the juvenile and domestic court but never did. My first panicked thought at that point was that my divorce wasn't really final and I was actually not legally married to Ken! But they assured me that my divorce really was final. The ladies told me that if the Army had any questions they were welcomed to call and they would explain it all.

So then I called Sgt Dean. He needed a copy of the whole file at this point and told me he would come by and get it next time he was in the area. Well, he only gets up here once or twice a month so I told him I would bring it to him. It was noon. I was at his office at 1:05 p.m. No one was there but then two soldiers drove up and hopped out of a car. They announced that they had gone to lunch and shut the car. Instantly one of them realized that he had locked the keys in the car. The other one then told the first that his only set of keys were in his desk drawer. Sgt. Deane had left to see a recruit in York and would not be back for an hour.

I wondered to myself if I really wanted to turn my son's future over to these people who could barely manage to get around town and pondered on how they managed to survive battle. But perhaps it was battle fatique or post tramatic stress that was causing these brain lapses.

I told them I was going to go shopping and would return later. I left them standing in front of their office trying their best to look like they were supposed to be there.

An hour later I returned to find the two soldiers gone, the government cars gone and Sgt. Deane inside the office. He told me he had sent the soldiers away and would call them later when he had his temper under control. I think he is very fed up with his little crew of non-coms.

He made copies of the paperwork and told me it would probably be a week or more before we heard anything else. I just know if the decision is that I do not have full custody (which I DO), then John will have to wait until he is 18 to sign up. He turned 17 in March. That's a long time for him to wait, bagging groceries part-time at the Food Lion and riding his bike to get to work. (As a high school drop out in Virginia - despite having his GED - he cannot get a driver's license until he is 18.)

I also learned this a.m. at the court house that in order for him to be declared emancipated, he has to petition the court and prove to the judge that he can fully support himself. Right now he can't do that.

Well, I am going to keep knitting the black socks. I am about 5 inches into the first one. Nine more inches to go before I make the heel flap. Then it will be 9 inches to the toe decreases. These soldier socks are LONG!

If he doesn't go, I will send them on to the Socks for Soldiers Group on Yahoo.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

the Village Knittiot

the Village Knittiot

I think that besides The Panopticon, this writer is one of my favorites.

I do think she is exactly correct about a number of things and appears to be far more disciplined than I.. .but perhaps I can use her as a model -- a goal to strive to reach.

And in other aspects of my life....

My husband is outside as I write, working in the gardens. Yes, that's more than one. There are, in fact, seven gardens in our yard (well 10 if you count the hedge row collection of assorted shrubbery which is what most folks around here consider a garden and the pond and the few odd ball things growing under the mailboxes).

Our first date back in 1998 involved him coming over to help me expand the herb garden and till for the veg garden. I had a few scruffy looking shrubs in back then but the place really does look good now. Thankfully, he moved in before the end of the growing season and valiently put up with my garden passions. When my knee went out several years ago, he continued to garden. He was hooked.

Here is a picture from 1999 to give you an idea of how far we progressed in a year: this is my herb garden.

I think it is the Englishman in him, personally. He's a very good gardener. This year, for the first time, he has succomb to the "easy way out" and instead of hand weeding every single square inch, is weeding directly around the perennials then using herbacide on the rest. I really can't blame him. It's a huge job.

The pond picture is from the year 2000.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Weight loss and knitting

Well, I got on the scale and got very pissed off at myself. I've gained 10 1/2 pounds since I quit paying for Weight Watchers in November. The only thing that seems to work for me is this darned expensive program of weighing, measuring and deprivation.

Yeah, I know they try to tell you that you can eat anything you want (and technically you can) but only in minute amounts and only then if you give up something else you want. I'm sorry, but Jello just doesn't cut it in the dessert department for me.


So, I'm going to try it again. And I will drink water and knit. Eventually, the weight has to come off if I quit eating so much. Somehow or another I also I have to figure out how to include time for exercise.

I've been eyeballing a little bag thing in Knitpicks that hooks onto your wrist or your belt and you stuff your yarn ball in there and just knit away while you walk. It's $18 and I think I'm going to contact my girlfriend who sews and see if she can make one for me at a much lower price. I hate to walk, but maybe if I have something else to do while I walk, I'll do better.

I'm also playing with the idea of investing in a treadmill. When John leaves, we are going to make his room into a guest room. That means the front room (which is currently storage and guest room), might be used instead as an exercise/storage room. I'm just not sure I'm ready to invest $400 in a treadmill. I'd rather have a spinning wheel.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Yarn shops and other adventures

Well, I returned safely from North Western Pennsylvania last night. That is a LONG trip. It was made longer, of course, because my girlfriend and I love to talk and fail to read signs sometimes or look ahead on directions and of course we like to take breaks.

In any case, I did not get to the Carodon Farm in Stanardsville but was rewarded by a visit to a cute little yarn shop in Franklin, PA after I got my tattoo finished.

Here is a picture of my tat:

And here is a picture of me under the needle:

I bought myself some really pretty red Cherry Tree Hill Sock Yarn. I also bought some point protectors and The Vogue Knitting Stitchionary. I felt pretty justified in doing that because I was a very good girl and did not cry or wince or act like a wimp when I was getting inked.

Fact is, the fellow who did my tat (Chris from Rotten Ink), was really awesome and just did a damned good job.

Now I need to sit down and design my next tat...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Not knitting but therapeutic

Well, I'm off for a weekend with the girls, and while I do plan to knit and am taking both my soldier sock project and the elder shawl project; the main purpose of this trip to the upper reaches of western Pennsylvania is to get my tattoo refreshed, research on my second tat and to spend some quality time with my girlfriends "T" and Paige.

I am taking my camera and will take pictures to post of our ink, my knitting and probably a whole lot of empty wine bottles... but it's all good. I'll be home Sunday.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spinning Wheels I'm meditating about

There are some pretty nice looking wheels out there. Here are two in particular that are coming highly recommended:

The Ashford Traditional
The link above has information about different kinds of wheels.

The Ashford Traveller

I will have to do more studying and I think I will have to hit the road and find someone with a wheel so I can try them out.

FInished my first pair of socks!

Here they are. Ta da!

Now it is on to a pair of socks for my son... soon to be soldier.

I have joined a Yahoo group called SockforSoldiers. Hopefully, I will perfect my sock technique with socks for John and then I can move on to making socks for other soldiers. It will be a challenge. I can accept a boo-boo or two in socks for myself, but must aim for perfection on these others.

And black yarn is tough to work with! It's dark! The stitches blend together. I need a better light.

An old rule is being re-enforced at work. The powers that be in headquarters (people who have never worked inside a prison, by the way) are telling our dear warden he can no longer allow us to bring our lunches/dinners or snacks inside the fences. Myself and a half dozen other have some medical issues and notes from doctors and we can bring in snacks, but I will have to come outside the gates to eat my lunch everyday as I cannot eat the food they give the inmates (gluten intolerance here, so no wheat, rye or barley. I'm also allergic to beef and soy so there is almost nothing I can eat that they feed the inmates). Anyway, one advantage to eating outside is that I could bring my sock knitting with me, keep it in my locker and work on it for 15 or 20 minutes every day at lunch time.

I must say I have been overwhelmed with all the spinning wheel information folks have shared with me in the Townies Sock Knitting Group. I may ask for a good standing lamp for my birthday and continue to feed the knitting addiction by itself for a while (try to use up some of my stash) and then at Yule/Christmas ask for the wheel.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

If I could just get away from the computer

I might actually get some knitting done.

I have fallen into the OTHER addiction (actually, I already had it, knitting is actually the NEW one). I am totally hooked on email, internet groups, surfing the internet and "playing" on the computer.

I don't play games. I pretend like I'm doing serious stuff like writing my blog(s), learning a new computer language (never mind I will probably never use it) and teaching myself all the nitty-gritty details of Access and Excel. I do use both of those programs a lot at work and have become rather famous (infamous) as a prison counselor who is Pagan and who knows computer programs better than the IT. Sort of fun to get called by folks from other prisons for information.

Be that as it may, I just spend too much time looking at a screen and pecking away on a keyboard when I'm home and it takes me FOREVER to finish anything. I wonder if other knitters who have internet have found this to be a familiar problem?

Now, I must say I did get outside this weekend. Even got a bit sunburned. We moved wood (from the tree we had to take down because it died last fall) and weeded the gardens. Ken did most of it. I must give him credit here. But I am sore and my muscles are protesting.

I have come to the realization you are getting old when foreplay with your partner involves Bengay first.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Me? Spinning?

I went to take my youngest child over to babysit his youngest cousin at my mother's house this morning. While waiting for the cousins to arrive, mom and I got to chatting about our knitting projects. She is currently up to her eyeballs in a fairisle sweater for my sister and enjoying every minute of the challenge.

I don't remember exactly how we got on the topic, but it may have been my son's fault. He was telling grandma how we had spun some of the dog's hair by using a QTip and pulling it out while turning it. We spun a very bumpy string of dog fur out to about a 25 foot length. Just one of those cool science experiments you do with your kids...

Anyway, the conversation went from spinning dog hair to spinning sheep rovings. Mom admitted that some years ago she had a spinning wheel and was sorry she had sold it. She had a ganglia cyst which effected her ability to feel in her right fingers. She found it very difficult to spin when she couldn't feel her finger tips. At the time I was not knitting. None of her daughters were knitting and she sold her wheel and all the stuff that goes with it. I told her that at some point I had had the opportunity to spin using a drop spindle and found it very easy.

She put down her glass of iced tea at that point and said very clearly, "Well, if using a drop spindle was easy for you, you need a wheel. You should ask for one for Christmas."

Hmmmm... you know my mind took leaps at that point. She reminded me that her favorite sweater was knitted from yarn she had spun and plied herself. So I have decided to ask for a wheel at my birthday since it comes in June.

I wonder if I will get it?

Scheming a yarn store trip

I'm bad. I admit it. And it's a darn good thing I did not promise to "obey" my husband when we joined hands.

"Don't buy any more yarn," he says, "until you get rid of some of this pile you have now. You have enough."

I have tried to explain to him that a ball of this and an odd ball of that from my mother's stash doesn't count really for anything unless I'm going to make a crazy poncho or something... which I might someday. But that's another project and I have too many on needles right now.

But I have found what looks like a really cool yarn store, sheep farm and knitting resource located in Stanardsville, Virginia called Carodon Farm. It appears to be an active place offering classes and fibre based events as well as a well stocked yarn store. I want to go there. I want to spend money there.

But Ken won't let me. Unless, of course, I can get there without him. And it just so happens there are two times this Spring when I will be in the area without him.

Next weekend I'm picking up a girlfriend in Culpeper and we are traveling to northern Pennsylvania to get tattoos. I'm just having my freshed up as it's do for a make over. She is having additions made to one she already has and our other girlfriend in northern PA is getting her third.

Culpeper is just about 30 minutes north of Stanardsville. I could leave really early, detour south and stop in and spend about an hour at the shop before swinging north again up Route 29 to fetch her. Or hope they are open on Sunday and I'm not too tired and hit them on the way home. But I'd rather have the goods with me up in PA so I can knit while visiting.

Of course, I have several unfinished projects at least two of which I should carry with me. So I may save some sleep time and not take this particular detour this time.

But I am only going to do it because I am scheduled to go to Stanardsville itself for a Beltane campout (again, just us girls since Ken must work) and will have the whole weekend to shop!

Then again, in October (the 7th & 8th to be specific) Corodan Farms will be participating (or may be hosting) the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia at Monpelier, VA in Orange County. It costs just $5 to get in. I think I will have to attend at least one day to get the experience and meet the fuzzy critters that provide us knitters with the lovely wool we knit.