Thursday, June 26, 2008

Women With Pointy Sticks Meeting

We had a good meeting in Frisco tonight with around ten women with pointy sticks attending and we got to see the finished blanket in person. It is gorgeous! Elizabeth is going to love it and there are so many neat hats for her to wear that I hope we get a photo or two of her with her blanket and maybe wearing a hat.

I got some advice from several of the ladies regarding finishing in the ends of ribbon yarn and eyelash yarn. I have a shawl knitted out of various different novelty yarns and the ends keep creeping our of where I wove them. I think I am going to use some fine sewing thread and a needle and sew some of the ends down so they don't come undone.

My husband dubbed it the Mardi Gras Shawl.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Knitting or Frogging?

I am still working on the Apple Green Shawl, but I seem to be losing ground lately. I tried to ignore some uneven stitches waaaay back there about three inches from where I was yesterday, but it required attention. So, I spent part of my morning at The Boiler Room removing the needles, frogging (ripppit, rippppit) my shawl, getting all 672 stitches back on the needles and rewinding the ball of yarn. Sigh.

One photo shows the knitting off the needles, the other shows the knitting back on the needles with the evidence of frogging ready to be rewound. Sniff. Sniff. Ah, well. It would have driven me nuts to leave it like it was. By the way, both photos were taken at the same place about 45 minutes apart, so why the difference in color??? Sometimes I just don't get electronic gadgets. They seem to have minds of their own.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Side Effects of Knitting

Have I mentioned that I love to knit and that I routinely spend eight hours a day doing so? Well, I do. And with that dedication to purpose come some side effects, one of which is not getting enough proper exercise. In other words, knitters can become couch potatoes without even trying.

With regard to weight gain I have several factors working against me: I am 53, had a hysterectomy 13 years ago, have not been exercising and have not been eating like I should. Factor all those things into sitting on my bum a large portion of the day and voila! End result? Pear-shaped Pat whose clothes don't fit and who refuses to buy larger clothing. There is no other alternative. I must get up and exercise every day and I have to watch what I eat.

With that in mind, I went for a mile walk this morning at 9:30 in the morning in the north Texas humidity. Ugh. Note to self: go walking earlier!

The thing that really annoys me is that I lost 23 pounds last spring and summer.....and gained it back over the winter! I can lose weight. Done it before. Have a gym membership, too!

Another thing that just occurred to me as I sit here writing this is that I need to come up with a daily schedule and stick with it. I don't work outside the home. The house isn't that large so it doesn't take much time to clean and keep up. The only other person in the house is my husband, Brad, and he is neater and more organized than I am! He is wonderful. He puts things back where he got them so he can find them later. I, on the other hand, am known for my various piles of things stashed around the house. When the pile gets too high I put stuff away....and then I can't find it because it isn't in clear site. Sigh. I am a work in progress.

I really do like organization I am just not adept at it. I have fits of 'today I am getting control of this mess' moments and I actually make progress. I really think a big part of my problem relates to a lousy memory. I get really organized and just can't remember where I put stuff. And when you have two dozen containers of assorted sizes full of yarn or spinning fiber alone stacked in the computer/sewing room, not to mention a closet full of fabric and sewing supplies, various baskets containing knitting projects, two knitting bags (It depends on how ambitious I am when leaving the house with knitting.) and four plastic store bags with the latest yarn purchases lurking in the bedroom.....well, as you can see, I may be doomed.

But, I refuse to lose hope. In fact, that was what a visiting priest told me last evening when I went to confession and shared my exasperation at not taking better care of myself and not having a regular routine so that I have time for everything. My penance was simply not to lose hope! How is that for penance? In the past I have been given everything from three Hail Marys to time spent in Adoration to an entire rosary, depending on the seriousness of the sin. Thank you Father. I will recite a rosary just for you before Mass today.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I was looking for something in one of my knitting books a few minutes ago and came across the pattern for Whisper's Blankie. It is 'Joseph's Blankie of Many Colors' on page 71 of Mason Dixon Knitting! I knew I would find it sooner or later.

Free Patterns.....Eventually.....Maybe

I am thinking of posting some free patterns, when I finally get around to actually writing them down instead of trusting to my feeble memory. There are several things that I knit on a regular basis that I 'designed' myself (also known as Pat wasn't happy with the original directions) that might be of interest to others. I am carrying my new notebook around for the purpose of making notes while I am working on a project.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another KAL in my Future

I have posted a link to another Meetup group: Knitters/Crocheters Shoemaker & Hardt in Plano, TX. I was planning on making tonight's meeting but it just wasn't going to work out. I have already been to Lewisville and Frisco this week and will have to drive to Oak Cliff on Sunday afternoon. With the cost of gas what it is today I just can't rationalize another trip this week.

Anyway, I am looking forward to meeting the group. If they have room I might even take the smaller of my two portable spinning wheels. Have a great meeting ladies! Catch you another time.

Today's Haul....Yarn and Books!

I had errands to run today, met my husband for lunch at our favorite Chinese Buffet, China Star in Sherman, TX, and stopped by Books A Million and Hobby Lobby.

I bought three books, "knitalong" by Larissa and Martin Brown; "Things I Learned from Knitting...whether I wanted to or not" by The Yarn Harlot; and a neat cloth bound notebook to keep in my yarn bag.

The trip to Hobby Lobby netted me five balls of various yarns in blues and greens to sample for chemo caps for boys, and a Sugar 'n Cream kit that I plan to use to knit a blanket suitable for a girl.

Following my purchases and lunch with hubby I made a stop at my favorite coffee shop, The Boiler Room, where I knitted, drank coffee, read through the "knitalong" book and made a few notes in my new notebook about resurrecting the "Knit A Life" Pro Life knitting group that I started with a couple of friends two? years ago. Time flies. Life intervenes. And sometimes plans change. My friends are interested in getting the group going again and I am waiting to hear back from my parish priest about meeting at our parish a couple of times a month.

I am also going to pick one day of the week, every week, and park myself at the The Boiler Room in an attempt to get a group started there. That particular venue isn't convenient for one of the group, hence the desire to meet at my parish. Knitting at a coffee shop is how the Knit A Life group started to begin with. In fact, the owner was the one who came up with the name. He thought a positive take on the 'get a life' saying would be nice for the group and we are grateful for his suggestion. I just wish he had been able to stay in business because it was a nice place to meet and knit.

(editors note: I no longer urge anyone to read the Yarn Harlot since she supports people who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle and I have taken the other links to her books off my blog.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elizabeth's Blanket

Krys has finished putting Elizabeth's blanket together. The ladies in the Women With Pointy Sticks needlework group knitted and/or crocheted blocks (at least I think some of them are crocheted, but I am not sure since I haven't seen the finished project in person) and then crocheted around the blocks so that Krys could put them all together.

Elizabeth likes pink and purple and I bet she will love this blanket. I pray it will bring her comfort during her cancer treatments and let her know that a bunch of ladies in the North Central Texas area are thinking of her.

God bless you, Elizabeth. We love you, dear!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blankie for Whisper

This is a cotton blanket for my friend, Whisper. Since she likes knitted things and I had some cotton I decided to knit her a throw for her bed. Can't recall where I found the pattern, but it must be in one of my knitting books somewhere!

Gee, the way the photo came out if you look at it very long it makes you dizzy!
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Summer Weight Chemo Cap

I thought a lighter weight yarn would be nice for a chemo cap so I started one out of Regia Bamboo/Wool blend. I hope it will be soft enough, I know the weight will be fine and I really like the color.
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Apple Green Shawl

The center of this shawl is Emily Ocker's Lace Garland and the border is from Marianne Kinzel's Rose of England. The Lace Garland pattern was a different gauge than my yarn and needles were giving me and the shawl was going to be too small. The border in the Rose of England is nearly identical to Lace Garland and there is plenty of room in the pattern to make it as large as I like without rewriting the pattern. The yarn is Araucania wool/polyamide and knits up quite nicely.

After the heavier worsted weight shawls I knitted during the fall and winter I decided I needed something a bit lighter but still warm enough to keep the chill off me at Mass when the A/C is going full blast.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

For My Husband

I am truly blessed to have a wonderful husband, Brad. We have been married for over 33 eventful years, most of which was spent with him in law enforcement.

He is the love of my life and I try very hard to let him know that on a regular basis. One of the ways I do that is to buy him flowers for birthday, anniversary and Fathers Day. I sometimes even bring him flowers for no other reason than I love him.

We have grown up together. I met him when I was sixteen, almost seventeen, and we were married when I was twenty and he was twenty-two. When we celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary it occurred to me that I had spent half of my life with this man, as many years as I had spent in my parent's home. Now, thirteen years later, it seems we have always been together.

We have weathered a lot together: Him being a cop for twenty-eight years, our daughter leaving for the Navy right out of high school, health issues for all three of us as well as the deaths of several family members in a few short years.

But all in all we have a wonderful life together. We live out in the boondocks of North Central Texas near Red River on eighty-six acres of mostly woods and weeds. The only complaint we have is being long-distance parents/grandparents with our daughter and her family residing in Virginia. When our son-in-law retires from the Navy they will move to Texas and then we will be content.

We don't get many visitors and we enjoy our solitude. We have a comfortable income supplemented by his teaching part-time at two area police academies and two shooting schools. When one of the cops he worked with at the city of Sherman asked him if he knew what retirement meant he replied that when someone pays you for doing what you love, it isn't work. I agree.

He teaches a ladies Sunday School class at his Disciples of Christ church and is an Elder. He helps his sister with the family farm as well as the upkeep on our place. He is a talented, giving person and I am so thankful to God for putting him in my life. We are good for one another and I can't imagine life without him.
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You know you have too many books when.......

I found a book I don't remember buying! Has that ever happened to you? It is a really good book, The Knitter's Handbook: Essential skills & helpful hints from Knitter's Magazine.

I have piles of old issues of Knitter's Magazine. The first copy I bought was the second issue. When I went back to find a copy of the first issue it was a reprint because they sold out so quickly. So I understand why I have this book, I just don't know when or where I purchased it.

There are lots of helpful things in this book; basics, bind-offs, buttons, buttonholes & zippers, cables, cast-ons, circular knitting, color, crochet, decreases, edges & borders, extras, grafts & seams, increases, lace, shaping, symbols & charts.

This one is going in the knitting bag and I will definitely share it with the "Women With Pointy Sticks" Meet-up group at the next Thursday evening meeting.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yahoo Groups: Shawl Knitters

I just added a link to Yahoo Groups: Shawl Knitters.
I stumbled onto their site looking for knitting related websites. Their photo section is amazing and their links page will take quite awhile to get through. I am looking forward to being a part of the group since shawls are my thing.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My Friend "Whisper"

I have a friend named Whisper. She is an adorable chocolate brown Cocker Spaniel and she greets me when I arrive at the Whole Body Healing Center in Lewisville. Her human, Daneen Kimbrell, is a massage therapist. Daneen and her husband, Tim, are awaiting the birth of their adoptive child in August. Everyone is very exited and, of course, I will need to make a baby blanket for him.

Whisper likes wool. Whenever I am working on something made of wool she will bury her nose in it and then look up at me as if to say, "Is it for me?" I guess I will end up knitting her a blankie for her bed. She even jumped up in my lap while I was in the recliner getting a lymph treatment and knitting on a wool shawl. If she had hands I think she would have picked it up and cuddled it.

Chemo Hat

I met for the first time last night with a meetup group in Frisco called "Women With Pointy Sticks" at the Bookworm on Main St. They knit, crochet, cross stitch and even work on beadwork! It was a nice group and I look forward to meeting with them in the future.

Their current project is sewing together squares for a blanket for a seven year old girl named Elizabeth with leukemia. Since they seemed to have enough squares when I first contacted them I decided to work on a chemo hat. The photo is the end result. I used Bernat Cotton Tots and cast on enough stitches to go around a 20" head. Then I just changed colors and patterns until it was long enough.

I started another hat with sock weight yarn for the summer. It will take a little longer to knit since the gauge is much smaller but I think it will work out well.

(Go to "Women With Pointy Sticks" to see the finished blanket for Elizabeth)
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More on Baby Blanket

These photos show details of picking up stitches along the side of the bias square and a finished
border section, picking up stitches along the edge of the border section just finished, and continuing along the second side of the center of the shawl.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Baby Blanket Under Construction

As much as I enjoy knitting with natural fibers I find I some times need to use arcrylic blends when the finished article is going to someone else. I can never be sure if the recipient is bothered by wool or not and in the case of a baby I find it best to use acrylic when in doubt. (Grandbaby Sarah likes wool just fine, thank goodness!)

I am using Elizabeth Zimmerman's Stonington Shawl pattern from the second issue of Knitter's Magazine. You start with three stitches in one corner and increase at the beginning of each row until you reach the desired width diagonally, then decrease down to the opposite point. Don't break the yarn! Just pick up stitches along one side and continue to knit, increasing at the beginning of each row until that section of the border is the depth you like. Then pick up stitches along the side of the border and continue along the second side picking up the same number of stitches as the first side. Knit up one stitch for each ridge on the edge of the border and increase on the other side at the beginning of the row. Continue around having NO seams, and cast on stitches for the lace edge to be knitted onto the border. You do not cast off the borders, just put the stitches onto a scrap piece of yarn and then put them back on the needle when you are ready to knit the lace edge. It sounds more complicated than it really is, but once you have knitted it you will like it.

You may have noticed the same pattern as in the beige shawl: Cat's Paw. It is easy to knit and makes a nice fabric.
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Another Shawl

I knitted this shawl before the beige one and I really like the natural off-white center and double blue border. It is knitted on 10 1/2 needles using Cascade Peruvian Highlands 100% Wool measuring 56 inches across. It is slightly smaller than the beige one which measures 60 inches. I had a scary moment when I realized that the blue from the border had bled into the center, but as it turned out it looks almost like it was an over dye in a random pattern. At any rate it is so subtle that I don't really mind and I fully intend to tell everyone that I did it on purpose!

Wool Blend Throw

I enjoy weaving with wool and wool blends like Lion Brand Woolease which I used in this throw I made several years ago. Washable wool blends are great for folks who don't want to worry about special care fabrics. Just set the washer on cold water and gentle cycle and throw it in the dryer on delicate for a few minutes and voila!
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A Diagonal Rectangle?

I knitted a scarf out of some hand spun 2-ply silk. One ply is dyed silk noil and the other spun from an un-dyed silk cap. I started in the lower right corner with three stitches and increased one stitch at the beginning of every row until it was the width I wanted. Then I began decreasing on one side and increasing on the other side at the beginning of each row. The result is a rectangular scarf knitted on the bias. I planned to add some knitted lace all around the edge but I liked the way it looked without it.

My Name is Pat and I am a Fiber Collector

Ok, I admit it: I hoard fiber. I used to feel guilty about it until the only spinning/weaving shop within driving distance closed several years ago. Now I am just glad I hoarded as much as I did back then! I don't know what I have been saving it for: all that lovely cotton, flax, silk, wool, alpaca, llama. I really need to get to work and get it spun and warp the loom and DO SOMETHING productive with it. Especially since I have Internet access and discovered Ebay.....but that is another story.

Yes. Confession is definitely good for the soul. I feel much better now. Tomorrow I will attempt to make progress at the loom. After all I can always just make up a pattern as I go. Yeah. Right. Now where did I file that pattern draft?

Going in Circles With Circular Shawls

I enjoy knitting on flexible knitting needles, especially the Addi Turbo needles, and my favorite thing to knit with them is a circular shawl.

I started in the center with eight stitches on double-pointed needles, size 10 1/2, using Paton's Merino Wool. I decided to use an invisible increase in a spiral pattern and include repeats of Cat's Paw as I had room for them. When I was ready for the lace border I increased enough stitches on the round before I began the lace to keep from having to increase every other row as I did in the center. I finished off with a lace border knitted sideways.

As you can see, Baby Sarah enjoyed the shawl as much as I do.

Knitted Wimple

In a previous post I mentioned a knitted wimple. This is what I was wearing when the llama snuzzled me.

I used the merino drum on my Pat Green drum carder and blended one part silver alpaca, 2 parts cream merino wool and 1 part bombyx silk. I spun a fine Z twist singles yarn at a 40 to 45 degree angle and 40 wraps per inch, plied it S twist at a 28 to 32 degree angle and 24 wraps per inch on my Ashford Traditional.

I knitted the body of the wimple plain and added the lace border. See the Alpace is Tops article by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts in the Fall 1990 issue of Knitter's Magazine.

A Friendly Llama

It was a cloudy, cold, drizzly day in Lancaster, Texas and I was wearing a wimple knitted out of my handspun wool/alpaca/silk blend. The next thing I knew I was being snuzzled by this llama!

His owner asked me what kind of yarn the wimple was knitted with and I told her it had some alpaca in it. She said, "Oh! He smells a relative."

I have forgotten his name, but he was the sweetest, most gentle fellow and he walked all around me gently touching his muzzle to the wimple until he was standing facing me with a quizzical expression on his face.

You have not lived until you have been snuzzled by a llama, and a polite one at that!

A Spinning Friend

I have met many interesting characters over the years since the spinning bug bit me and one of my favorite is Callie. She was facinated by the spinning wheels going round and round when we would meet at the home of her family in Denton, Texas once a month. She was particularly entranced with my "Wee Peggy" wheel from New Zealand.

A Monstrance?

In my last post I mentioned a monstrance. I bet not a lot of you folks know what that is. A monstrance holds the Consecrated Body of Our Lord. When a Catholic Priest pronounces the words of Consecration over the host wafer it actually becomes the Body of Christ although still visible as a host.

For purposes of Adoration a Consecrated Host is sometimes placed in a monstrance for viewing in a church or chapel. The photo of Pope Benedict XVI shows him with a monstrance.

The Annunciation Tapestry

St. Patrick Catholic Church in Denison, Texas has a Perpetual Adoration Chapel dedicated to Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi. This tapestry is below the monstrance on the front of the altar.

I have a particular fondness for it since my name in Carmel is Patricia of the Annunciation.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Teresa & John: Spinning & Weaving Partners

I was already well into hand-spinning and weaving before I began discerning a vocation to Carmel. Imagine my surprise and delight to discover that St. Teresa of Jesus, the founder of our Order, spent many hours spinning! And St. John of the Cross, who assisted her in founding the Order, came from a family of weavers!

Since both spinning and weaving fit in well with a life centered on solitude and reflection I find myself thinking of both of these great Saints while at work on the loom or at one of my wheels.

“There are more than enough books written on prayer already. For the love of God, let me get on with my spinning and go to choir and do my religious duties like the other sisters. I am not meant for writing; I have neither the health nor the wits for it.”

St. Teresa of Jesus, OCD
Interior Castle trans. by E. Allison Peers