Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Good morning

The morning inbox was awash with Boye steel hooks of every size. Thank you; I am so grateful, especially to know their original owners may have left off using them, but they still are in the collections of new owners, and probably will be attracted to another at the proper time. The Boye size 0 is on its way from California, View from my Window in Tehachapi.

I must add a probably long remark about what I do when I knit. I watch television. I am not sure how this works. I have a 17" television, to the sheer dismay of most who have seen it. I think it simply keeps things in perspective. 

The service is called Roku. It's like cable, without local news, which I miss. The amount of money required for television "entertainment" is staggering. But that's not where I was headed.

Of everything available on Roku, I use Netflix the most, and have enjoyed watching so many shows that have been recommended. For a time I was watching Last Tango in Halifax. I know it ends somewhere, but I haven't checked that out. I had to quit watching; every episode was a new disaster, and even reducing it to 17" was no good. Every show another fight, another death, another relative.

I quit Last Tango for Outlander. I watched a couple of episodes prepared to scoff at all the mistakes in presenting the lives of 18th century rural peasants. But what I do know about dress, about the history of clans, which the British treated rather like Americans treated Native People, was ringing true. 

Every episode of Outlander is a new adventure, and most are fairly rough. It was a rough time. I was in for the long haul when I saw the tax collecting episode. Claire, the female protagonist is commandeered into the tax collecting group for her skill as a nurse. Claire wanders into a group of woman in one village and is fit into the group "waulkin" the wool. 

A length of woven woolen fabric is being fulled by waulking. The length is rolled or scrunched its length on a long table and the women on either side pick it up in unison, slap it on the table, pick it up again further down its length, slap it on the table and so on, in time to a waulkin song, like a sea shanty.

I have omitted so far, the rest of the fulling process, which is moisture and heat. The wool has been saturated in warm urine. And so we have the three components of fulling, heat, moisture and agitation. Claire even has a pee into the communal pot of new heat and moisture. And this is how waulking occurs, to my knowledge.

The show goes intensely into the infliction of pain between two warring cultures, and there came a time when one show's action kept me awake far too long. And then I realized Outlander had become as predictable as Last Tango. Each new episode was another murder, kidnapping, extreme loss.

I had to know where it ends. I took to friend google and wound up on my other friend, Wikipedia, which has a one line synopsis of each episode. I read and read and read to catch up to where I am, and then read ahead a bit, then scrolled to the end. Yes, there are hundreds of episodes. 

For the present, I'm off Outlander, too. Picture from Google.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021


 Two projects currently underway are nearing completion. The amaryllis is looking forward to its "long winter's nap" and shedding leaves as fast as it can. See how much chlorophyll is gone!

And soon I find the leaf totally resigned and happy to be gone.

When I put the bulb into this pot, I squeezed it gently and it felt very mushy. I wondered for a minute if I should even keep it, but put it in the pot and carried on. Now when I squeeze the exposed bit, there is resistance. The fertilizer, the water and the sunshine have done the job.

I wonder how long it will take the bulb to learn it is in the northern hemisphere and really should be blooming come spring, not hibernating to bloom at Christmas.

The other job at hand is a different way to close the toe of a sock. I invented my own way years ago.

I've always worked a wedge style toe, but instead of grafting, I crochet the remaining stitches together. After the obligatory decreases on both sides of the top and the sole, I put the top and bottom stitches on two needles.

Holding the two needles together and using a small crochet hook I took off the first back and front stitches and pulled front stitch through the back. Then the next front and back and pulled the back stitch through. Then the next back and front, and so on. Pull the end through and work in.

That crochet hook is lost, missing from the knitting bag when I went searching to finish that last pair of socks. It is an old steel hook, with a softly rounded tip, size 0 or 00. Still available in my childhood. Now they all seem to be aluminum or bamboo, and do not slip easily through a size one yarn loop.

I thought I'd try some decrease that would leave fewer than the twenty ending stitches I currently have, so I could simply pull the yarn through the remaining. I've done that now, using a wedge toe, and it's almost too ugly to show.

So, I will rippit back and try something else. And finally, I intend to find more interesting topics for future essays.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Where have I been this week?

This week has been unlike April! Temperatures in the high seventies. Blue skies. Mild, mild breezes. All week every window is open, creating a notable current of that air in every room. 

If I were outdoors, I'd throw myself to the grass and succumb to the soporific effect. It's like my first spring in college, falling on the green like all those other bodies, and giving way to...spring.

But I'm indoors, and certainly not near any patch of grass, from which I could not rise unaided, in any event. I will not throw myself on the bed; I surely would not rise until someone said it was time for dinner. Dinner, alas, from my own hand. 

So I give over weaving and retreat to my easy chair, between two open windows, to watch the news for a bit and then back to the loom. And when I open my eyes, and again make words of the voice of news, it's two hours later. I make a late lunch and return to the easy chair, feeling spring air on all my exposed skin.

I've moved the tiny Gerbera daisy to the porch. It fascinates the cat. I brought in a Gerbera to overwinter a couple of years ago, and flowers and all, it had no attraction for the cat. Not so this Gerbera, the identical color as the overwintered plant. No mind they are not toxic, dear Mr. Cat's stomach finds them intolerable. 

I find cleaning the morning mess intolerable, especially as Toby does not appreciate he could help by selecting tile over carpet. The Gerbera is out, but cannot take its appointed place in front of Pig until I put it in a heavy clay pot. So, the Gerbera is tucked in a safe corner (barring a big storm).

The smell of gardening is in the air. Laura brought my bag of potting soil and trowel from the shed on her last visit. I didn't think to include the watering jug. I just added it to my running list of light bulbs that need replaced, and other things I cannot reach.

Back inside, I'm still following the progress of the second declining amaryllis leaf. Less and less chlorophyll in that leaf, but still resistance to my finger, so it remains on the job. 

I've spent my afternoons, on awakening, with Netflix. My algorithm has enough building blocks now to hold my interest in the row of suggestions along the bottom of the screen. I've watched some amusing trash, and have left as much dangling. I did watch Philomena with great interest.

Well, Judy Dench and Steve Coogan and why would I not watch it!  

Over the last very few years I've followed the unfolding of the Irish mother and baby hospitals scandal (for want of a better word), always hoping for a clue to the marriage of my Irish paternal grandparents and the fate of five orphan children abandoned by the church of their mother. 

Of course, my story of interest unfolded in this country, but, The Church remains The Church for much of its time in this world. Its solution to mothers and children it found improper was living as penance for unworthiness of existing. My grandmother, it also advised to sue her husband for child support, a radical idea in 1914.

She did so, and at once her Presbyterian husband jumped bail and went west, where he died, under an assumed name, without paying any support. His family and hers made little or no effort to assist the mother and five children, though some effort was made toward the three girls. And The Church did nothing. Involuntary penance.

The breeze through the window is light and sweet. I have two paperwork problems to work through, and then I will see what Netflix has on offer this afternoon.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Kiwi, loom waste, living in Australia, and amaryllis

Kiwi, done and dusted. Although I wound all the periwinkle bobbins and wove a bit, I really kept my nose pointed to the kiwi towel job. It is not good to let oneself be distracted. That's where little unfinished projects begin, occasionally with a note, but more often not. And a year later, there it is in the back of a drawer.

It was a good thing I turned my back on that lovely bit of periwinkle! There is someone in Australia who I've corresponded with just a little bit. She bought towels more than a year ago (back in another lifetime), and was so enchanted she bought a loom. 

Jennifer has what is called a rigid heddle loom and is weaving a fabric called Buffalo Plaid. Take a peek; she is a fine weaver! Buffalo Plaid is the Rob Roy plaid. That is another great story and there is a link to it.

One weaver to another, I wanted to show her my cheap and dirty approach to a quick  fell line. I used to weave row after row on my tie up, until the separation filled up and I could weave a header and get started. One day I saw what a waste that was, and switched to weaving a few rows, just to say I'd been there and then weaving a header and getting on with weaving.

Here is Jennifer's Buffalo Plaid on her rigid heddle loom. You can google all those words and have a fine Looms 101 class.

I've lost the first leaf from the amaryllis, and here is a short tutorial from this amateur to anyone who is interested.

Here it is with six leaves. The bottom left was creeping along the table. I slid my finger down between that leaf and the one above. Plenty of resistance, so I quit and went to weave. 

I tried it again the next day and so help me, my finger slipped between the two leaves a if they were greased, right to the beginning of old growth, where it folded over.

I took off the leaf as if it were a sheet of perforated notebook paper!

And now there are five leaves. The opposite bottom leaf is about where this leaf was a day ago. Slow but sure.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Interesting trips around the sun

This past week included my birthday, and was celebrated by phone calls from relatives and children and friends. Ann and I began putting together duplicate coincidences. It is my birthday. It is Easter. It is cold and snowing. A duplicate of the day of my mother's funeral.

Ann and I chuckled and pieced together the events of that day, twenty four years ago. The scramble to find warm clothing and boots for those unprepared, like my cousin in from Texas, and Ann, and my brother and his wife, in from southern Ohio, and the children, and my niece, and on and on and on. We looked like rag-a-muffins, and that surely amused mom, who specifically forbad the notice we put in the paper.

Such a send off. A beautiful eulogy from Mom's beloved pastor, the floating, dancing fingers of the woman who signed for my deaf niece. Mom left a life time of friends. So many came to her interment that two escort cars were required to direct traffic. And we delayed her burial to the day of my birthday to not interfere with Easter weekend.

What goes around comes around, as they say, and my daughter's fiftieth birthday included her Uncle Walt's funeral. Interesting markers. Mom was 79 when she died in 1997. My father was 70, twice my age that year he died. My brother Mel's life was so confused, I pegged his death as the thirty third of August. My sister says the coroner gave him a date.

I hope you're still with me. It really did snow yesterday, a lot more than that. Or the day before. I don't remember which day it was.

I literally have been out of the house once in the last two weeks, and that was to sweep the snow from the deck and put the trash in the cans. I should go stand on the deck and deep breathe a lot some time today. The sun is blinding. Maybe when Cathy comes with the mail this afternoon.

My accomplishments this week include finishing the current length of towels, and knitting the current sock as far as turning the heel.

Kiwi. I love this color. It's in the dryer as I type, and will be towels before the weekend is over.

I love knitting socks. They are simply a set of math rules. For a long time after the head injury I believed I never would reconstruct the meaning of the math. But when I found the half finished second sock in the knitting bag, next to the finished first sock, I found I could do it, and so I did. So, I'm half way to trying the new toe.

There is not one thing new in my little house, except the Gerbera daisy I was gifted for my birthday. It was sampled by Mr. Cat overnight, the night before last. It made him act extremely unwell yesterday morning, which I did not find the cause of until he deposited some green leaves and orange flower petals on the floor. Later he added his entire breakfast! He has lived with a Gerbera in the past, with no incidents.

The amaryllis simply continues to nourish itself via leaves. The leaves are beginning to droop, and I don't want to cut them off yet, until I can make a good, close cut to the bulb. That seems to be the way it was groomed for at least the last ten years, if I'm counting correctly.