Monthly Archives: April 2013

Please Don’t Tell Me What I Cannot Do

To Those Who Doubt Me,

Please, do not tell me what I cannot do. There are millions of things that are worse than an arthritic hand, a hand with only a thumb and pointer finger that are fully functional. Or the wee little panic monster living in my brain, you learn to live with OCD just like you would live with any chemical imbalance; one day at a time. Look around you; you never have to look very hard or very long to find something worse. I consider myself lucky in that respect.

If I want to mow my parents lawn as well as their next door neighbors – whose grandchild is dying in Children’s Hospital- please don’t tell me I cannot do this. I can tie a twisty tie around the power mower lever and push with my palms. I can rest for ten minutes here and there and elevated the swollen, screaming appendage then continue the task at hand (no pun intended, although it is a good one). Real pain is having a mother whose lungs will not allow her to do the yard work she has always loved, or losing a grandchild whose heart has given it up as a bad job.

If I want to clean my neighbor’s house to prepare for the impending arrival of their first child, please do not tell me I cannot do this. This is may seem like a double no-no for someone struggling with infertility, multiple miscarriages, and OCD that gets set off at the drop of a hat around baby items. It may seem a no-no situation to avoid the panic monster living in my brain, that little bastard and I have learned to live together, he won’t stop me from helping a friend when they need it. If I can survive the war in my brain knitting their baby blanket, so soft and sweet and utterly heartbreaking then my hand and brain can handle Windex and Pledge just fine.

If I want to for hours on end, please do not tell me I cannot do this. There are compression gloves – both those you can find in craft stores and the more sophisticated versions that specialist create for loads of money – that can pull the swelling from my abused joints. There is Advil, Tylenol, ice and heat to sooth the pain and malicious looking bruising. I don’t mind the dusky purple color my hand takes on, I choose to look at my hand and it’s odd coloring as a sign that another day has gone by and I have not let my life be dictated by something beyond my control.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am not mad. I know you worry because you care.

I am not depressed. I know your concerns about the overwhelming emotions brought on by being surrounded by baby items with no baby of our own are painful, but hiding from them would be far more detrimental.

I will not be deterred. If I decided to stop living my life and doing the things I love for fear of pain, that would not be living. Life can be painful, usually is to be honest. It is how we choose to go about our pain that makes us who we are. I am choosing to be someone who will not be defined by a hand injury, I am not making it any worse doing these things, just opting to live with what I’ve got to work with. I will not be defined by the fact that I cannot have the child that I so desperately want. My heart may feel like it is breaking on a daily basis but to ignore or neglect all those whose bodies will allow them to make a new life would be selfish, inconsiderate and destroy that happier parts of myself. Family is, after all, what you make of it.

So please, take heart that I know my limitations, that I know how to live my life to the fullest and embrace the things that make me the happiest even if I get a wee bit teary here and there. And please – Don’t Tell Me What I Cannot Do.

Jewelry Display Accomplished!

Even the Owl is Impressed!

Even the Owl is Impressed!

Who knew when Stitch Pattern Week 6 came to life that something even more amazing – in my ever so humble opinion – would come of it! This is one of things that I love about knitting, you learn one new skill, pattern, or technique and it leads the way to a limitless way to use it. So Stitch Pattern Week 6 is now a doodad hanger, pictured with two of my favorite things; a honeypot (which life is not complete without) and my owl cookie jar (who seems as surprised I finished it so fast as I do!).

Unfortunately, the idea was not my own; Lion’s Brand website was who provided the way to assemble this DIY project, and for that I am so grateful. All I needed way quilt batting, craft glue and an extra 8 by 10 frame to bring this to life. I am typically a person who makes accessories (hats, gloves, dishcloths, place mats, scarves, baby blankets, booties, ect.) so making something that is so functional and pretty and NEW is making me a tad giddy!

My OCD played a role in getting this done so quickly, can’t forget to thank that little panic monster for it’s contribution. After a knockdown, drag out fight with my Dad (and this is insane, I am 28 and the man still talks to me like an errant child- and errant child that still cannot defend herself) I desperately needed to keep busy. So I busted out in my iPod, put on Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth (which has been amazing so far) put my head down and got to it. Knitting is therapy. I’ve seen all these bloggers saying “I Knit so I Don’t Kill People”, well, mine would be “I Knit so I Don’t Totally Lose My Mind to the Panic Monster Living in My Brain”.


My New Moto

My New Moto

With my project done it is time to look forward – which means trying to figure out how and when to open my shop and….drumroll please….starting my first pair of socks! Pans & Needles has shown me so many beautiful socks that I cannot resist jumping into a new project, as if I needed another one!

So, finishing out my diatribe, I will unabashedly beg for advice. If there are any tips, pointers or magic spells for working on my first pair of socks….Please, for the love of God, SHARE.

Thanks for reading friends and neighbors!

Lists are Calming – Favorite Books From A to Z

When my OCD decided to rear it’s big ugly head I try to do things that I find comforting, usually this is reading or knitting. Sometimes though, no matter how hard I try, the panic monster jumps all over my concentration and I have to try something else. Making lists has always been a go-to when the panic monster comes out to play and since being inspired by the A to Z Challenge on Daily (w)rite I came up with my favorite books from A to Z.

So suck it OCD! Here are some of my favorite books from A to Z. By the way, X is a really butt kicker!

Stitch Pattern Week 6 – Bad Books and Doodads

Since I was unquestionably late posting the stitch pattern for last week, I hope this will assuage any worries about my commitment. Ha! That certainly sounded pretentious! Sh!t, so did that! Any-who, with no further adieu, I present week 6 for your viewing pleasure!

Quilted Lattice

Quilted Lattice

Normally, I would share the pattern written by my great-grandmother with a nice – if slightly snarky- correction on how the pattern would be written today. I want to do that for you below (it is down there, promise), but if you can bear with me there is a story that goes with this pattern that I would like to share.

First and foremost, I am honestly going to say that I went right to a stitch dictionary to find out how this pattern was supposed to be written because for the first time she actually included the name of the stitch! Whoopee! Hooray! No Frogging for this girl this time!

Wait…not so fast. If I learned something this week it is not to get overly excited that something may go as planned.

I went to a book I recently found at a yard sale for fifty cents, which seemed like a steal at the time but hey, what do I know? Maran Illustrated Knitting and Crocheting  seemed like a really good starter book for my niece to try her hand at knitting and I was familiar with the brand name, thus comfortable in my ignorance. When I found the quilted lattice pattern it was slightly different on one row from my GG’s dictation, but considering she wrote it in her eighties I went with the book.

Wrong plan. Bad idea. Don’t do it. No. No. No….NOOOO!!!

As it turns out, the pattern in the book was written incorrectly; after much frogging and even more cursing I went to Lion Brand’s website (I’d had it with stupid books with their stupid pages and stupid….stupidness) and found an identical pattern to what GG was attempting to convey in her own chicken scratch way and was off and running.

I love the pattern by the way, it was totally worth the hair loss caused my abject frustration, and as a bonus my niece and I stumbled upon a great DIY idea. This pattern lends itself to perfectly to having lovely doodads hung from the loose stitches, so I am currently doing this pattern again and following the idea born from Lion Brand’s website.

So with another new project on the needles and an epic weekend Scrabble tournament going on between my niece, my husband and I, I am feeling pretty giddy. Loads of work to do but when you love what you do, it never seems like work!

GG’s Pattern vs. Actual Readable Pattern

quilted lace – Quilted Lattice but so close! A name for the pattern! Huzzah!

all wrongs p – Purl all odd rows (Good, good. Cooking with gas).

r2 k2 s5 yth k1. rep. last k – Row 2: K2, *Sl5 wyif, K1* rep *to* till last st., K1 (Luckily I have seen yth= yarn towards heart, so bringing it forward made sense, which made the s=slip fall into place).

r4 k4 lift k drop k5. last rep -1 – Row 4: K4 *Lift lose strand, knit into next stitch, bring lose stitch under strand; K5* . Rep. *to* till last rep, K4 instead of K5. (Dear GG, If you were planning on passing on your patterns, great googley moogley why did you write the stitch transition like this? Was there a maniacal giggle happening as you did this? Devilish glint in your eye? Sometimes I wonder).

r6 k1 s3 yth then k1 s5 yth till last 5 k1 s3 yth k1 – Row 6: K1, sl3 wyif, *K1, sl5 wyif*.  Rep. *to* to last 5 sts; K1, sl3 wyif, K1 (I am getting a handle on you, you old bag. Your odd shorthand is becoming clearer and clearer to me with each passing week. Considering quitting my day job and pursuing a career as a codebreaker for the CIA).

r8 k1 lift k drop k5 last rep k-4: (Really) Row 8: K1 *insert needle under loose strand, knit into next strand and pull off needle and under lose strand, K5* Rep *to* till last rep., K1 instead of K5 (Dear GG, I forgot to ask earlier, why do you hate punctuation? Is there some family history about punctuation doing my family harm? Wish you were alive so I could ask, cause it is giving me heartburn to think about it).

-Almost the End. Promise.-

If you have made it to the end, more power to you. So I shall end this post with a burning question in my mind; Has anyone else bought a book or pattern and had it be completely off the mark? And if so, how did you figure out how to fix the problem?

Thank you again for glimpsing into my families history and my passion for knitting. I must be passionate, otherwise I am just nuts!

Slouchy Hat Love

I Think I am in Love! -But not with Photoshop you can tell ;)

This pattern was so fun and well written that the hat just seemed to make itself. Not to mention the blocking instructions were hilarious – they included two dinner plates, a bowl and a saucer – and it worked out flawlessly! It may have looked a bit like a dangerous sombrero for a while, but the blocking stretched the lace out and created a very multidimensional piece.

The hat is perfect for the summertime, it’s light airiness lends itself to the spring and summer months with that hint of unique lace stitches that make me feel fancy. And who doesn’t like to feel fancy?

As for me, I am still learning html, Photoshop and now Gimp which has had some hiccups here and there but it could always be worse. Catching up on some many neglected WIPs, working and playing with Max who would prefer to play with my yarn. Rascal.

So in an attempt to get more comments and to learn from the plethora of knowledge that is the blogging world, let’s give this a whirl. I have done some funny things to block a project that seemed ludicrous but worked out splendidly. SO….

What works best for you when you are blocking?

What is the strangest thing you have ever done to get a project to hold it’s shape?

As always, thank you for stopping by and taking time out of your day to listen to my diatribes. It is much appreciated!

Experiencing Knitting Lust!

I collect hobbies and hoard information, very much like a squirrel with nuts. Every day I seem to see or read about something new that I just HAVE to learn how to do. So, if you will allow me to make a list for the goofy things I am dying to try to learn or knit, read on friends and neighbors.

  1. Knit a shadow box art installation.
  2. Knit textured wall art.
  3. Knit little owl stuffed toys for Stitches from the Heart.
  4. Knit a terrarium full of flowers, birds, grass, and bugs as a art piece.
  5. Knit a crossword puzzle blanket.
  6. Knit a chessboard blanket with pieces in starting position.
  7. Knit with beads/sequins (this whole application boggles my mind a bit).
  8. Learn to write a pattern that is cohesive.
  9. Learn to read knitting charts (sadly, I still have to write out the chart before I cast on).
  10. Learn to dye yarn.
  11. Knit a Fisherman’s Sweater for the hubby (he loved the hat, why not a sweater? we’re already married after all 😉

The Inspirations

(If I am breaking some sort of copy write rule of thumb, please let me know and it will be fixed immediately)

There is also the every growing bucket list…just for knitting. I love lists and I love knitting, these things seem to go hand in hand.

The Ever Growing Knitting Bucket List

  1. Design as sell patterns.
  2. Be published! (holy crow, that would be amazing!)
  3. Be able to teach classes.
  4. Be able to teach classes to other arthritic knitter’s like myself. To show them you don’t have to give up what you love because your hands work against you.
  5. Learn to crochet more than just the basics (it is soooo hard on my hand, but that’s never stopped me).

There is time (oh God I hope there’s time!) to work my way through my lists and hope to keep you updated on their progress. Any projects, skills or abilities you are lusting after? Feel free to comment. Hope you slept well and have enjoyed reading as much as I have enjoyed writing.

Stitch Pattern Week 5 – Better Late Than Never

Boy howdy I am late on getting this posted, I hope that my tardiness can be excused. I, like the rest of the country, was attached at the hip to any news media I could get my hands on, watching in baffled dismay at the horrific events of this past week. But with my mind set at ease, or as much at ease as it can be knowing that monsters are real, it is time to get back to it.

So I present this weeks stitch pattern!

Open Pillar Work Stitch Pattern - Week 5.

Open Pillar Work Stitch Pattern – Week 5.

Side Bar: Gotta love photo editing by the way. With Photoshop’s magic it refined the details of the stitches themselves, fixed the color saturation, eliminated unwanted shadows and made a fancy schmancy border.!

As per-usual I had to consult a few stitch dictionaries to find out what this patterns true name was – Pillar Open Work was my winner – because my dear great grandmother called it lazy cables. This pattern was just a continuation of two repeating rows but making it was stupid simple and the result was very pretty. Had I to do it again (and I probably will) I think I will go down a needles size though. So, with no further adieu, here is my great grandmothers scrawl vs. the “correct” way to read this pattern.

-51sts across n – Cast on 51 sts. 

-5 kp across – Knit 5 rows K1,P1 across for seed st. pattern (and yes, I thought kp was some funky knitting term that surpassed my years of knowledge, all 10 of them vs. her 70).

-pt. r1 right; k then yarn towards heart down, sl, 2k, left over right by 2, rep till 1, k – Row 1: (RS) K1 *yo, sl.1, K2, peso the two knit sts. over: rep From * to last st., K1  (Come ON GG, really? How did you follow this pattern! Well….she seemed to have no trouble. I rescind my judgement).

-r2 p – Row 2: (WS) P. (Thank the Lord above! A notation that required absolutely no cursing!)

-fin as b – Knit 4 Rows in K1,P1 Seed St. Bind off in Same Fashion (Again, no cursing! Finally a break that resulted in absolutely NO FROGGING!)

I am going to go ahead and call it a day with this post. I ranted and raved my last two and the lack of readers gave me the distinct notion that maybe I should stick to what I am good at. Not that I care, the people who did read gave amazing feedback and I don’t write to get people to read my blog, that is just a fantastic bonus. I write because you think harder when you write, or at least more specifically and the act is therapeutic. Hopefully given time the caliber of my writing will improve to include a wider audience. If not…well, I still love what I am  doing so f$*k it. 🙂

Sleep well, I will be here knitting all the while.

My Conflicted Mind – Part 2

Part 2 – Nostalgia vs. The Future

I think that this quote is maybe the best way to describe my current dilemma. Yes, I live with multiple dilemmas.

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

–Henry Ward Beecher

I LOVE bookstores, and the older the books in said bookstore the more I like them. Rarely do I buy a book fresh off the presses, with the exception of a handful of writers that I cannot resist reading the day it is published I like the hunt of finding a used book. Half Price Books is maybe my favorite place in town, it and my knitting store are places that I can get lost in for hours and never consider it wasted time.

When my husband and I bought our home we decided that it needed a library, it was something we had both dreamed of having at our fingertips as “adults”. It started pretty simply with copies of our favorite and most believed books we moved out of our parents home with and a dash of academic books for reference. But it kept growing and growing…then it grew a little more….then it took over the house. Our complete basement, the biggest single room in the whole house now contains over 2,500 books. Is this extreme? Oh God yes it is extreme, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the thing at all. It is this eclectic mix of old and new, signed leather bound tomes and mass market paperbacks. Organized by genre, then by author -Oh dear! My OCD is showing!- it is accessible, functional, and fu*%ing amazing!

To the casual observer, it may seem as if two people and 2,500 books seems more like severely organized hoarding, but they would be dead wrong. Our friends and family have been using our library as much as we have, for years they come and ponder our stacks, borrowing what suits their fancy and always coming back for more. Two years ago a dear friend of mine made library cards for us to give people, as well as a computer program that would scan bar codes so we would always know where our books were. This may be the most epic-ly unique present I will ever receive and they’re actually used. It becomes a joke when we have friends over for dinner, they’ll creep down to the library while I am cooking and gladly present their library cards and books as they are getting ready to leave. The warm feeling of being able to share this with the family I was born into and the families I have made is akin to hot tea with honey on a rainy day. There is nothing better.

Well, maybe if I give them a sweater to wear while they are drinking tea with honey and reading a book might top it. Although that may be too good, some things our mind will just never be able to fathom.

The library grew even more with the arrival of my niece. First with storybook’s full of whimsical pictures, textured pages and magical places that will resonate into adulthood. When she got older it was on to starter chapter books; she devoured these books with the same insane enthusiasm that I have always had for books. She would read them, then try to read them aloud to us and ask every question imaginable about them – then promptly demand another book. Now that she is in the sixth grade, and has a reading level closer to a high schooler, the books we already have are working their way into her repertoire. She hasn’t outgrown that greedy lust for books (I hope she never does) but she posed a question to me recently that got me thinking. Why not just use an eReader?

eReader? Blasphemy! Oh the terror….the HORROR!


When I see people using eReaders, I am rarely seeing people read. Playing games and surfing the Internet is mostly what I see when look around. If the whole idea behind an eReader is to read, then you think you would see a lot more people doing that instead of playing Angry Birds. Granted, I have nothing against technology, my iPod Touch is never far from my grasp and our iPad (which my husband and I share) is excellent for work and doing crossword puzzles. When I think of buying my niece an eReader I get the sneaking suspicion that she would not be using it just for reading, if I am lucky enough to have her using it for reading at all.

However, I am willing to acknowledge the fact that she has a point. I have almost no doubt in my mind that if I live to a ripe old age I will see the end of print, newspapers and books will be a relic as handy in modern society as a gramophone is today. But my books! I feel like reading is an active thing, a living thing that has a power over me. The spicy smell, the weight, the sound pages make when you are reading at a frantic pace to see what happens next is all part of the experience. Used book in particular show their use and their love, I guess books for me are more like pieces of art. Take away that experience and you are left a cold device that sucks up energy, could die if not properly charged (and if this happened during a particularly intense part of a story it would most likely in my case end up shattered against a wall) and will become obsolete when the newest model comes out.

There is a part of me that also sees the good in an eReader though. When you don’t print paper you are not cutting down trees. I try to be eco-minded; we have compost bin, recycle regularly, grow our own herbs and vegetable, buy energy star rated appliances and use the stupid lightbulbs that are good for the environment if not our eyes. Even part my business is based on sustainable ways to clean your home without waste, but I just hate the idea of giving up my books.

So here I am, sitting in a room surrounded by books debating on abandoning their sweet, therapeutic texture to try something cold and sterile that is the future. Can you be nostalgic for something that is still around? I am.

My Conflicted Mind- Part 1 (Oh My! So Fancy!)

Part 1 – How Best to Spend Time on Your Bum

I didn’t realized until we went on vacation this past weekend that I am not reading nearly enough! I know knitting is a passion – I have lots of passions – but my first true passion was always reading. From a young age I became a library scavenger,  spending hours amongst the stacks careful in my selection and confident in my choices.  As a teenager and college student I read for both pleasure and academics, sometimes they came together like with William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury  which is still one of my favorite books today. After I finished college I was reading about a book a week (this is an average I am pulling off Goodreads here) which seemed to satisfy my needs quite well. But since knitting has morphed from a passion to a possible business venture my reading has dropped by the wayside. My spare time is spent reading other blogs, knitting, blogging and then some more knitting. It is quite a dilemma.

So, at around four o’clock this morning I picked up Just One Day by Gayle Forman,  a book my lovely niece left at my house and which had peaked my curiosity. I got my niece started with her first two books, both of which I highly recommend, and the book seemed to be taunting me all night long. Knit, purl, knit, purl -look at book- knit, purl, knit -look at book- knit…oh Sh!$ that wasn’t right! After having a few disastrous rows completely shatter my focus I went ahead and fixed the work so I could continue on with the pattern and put it aside, then I dove at the book with a single minded purpose. I was going to read.

And read I did. But there was something missing from the magic I usually feel when I am reading. Typically, I pick up a book and have no problem losing myself in an imaginary world which always seems that it was created just for me. The weight, texture and smell of the book all invaded my senses and I become more and more curled up in the couch, as if protecting the book from being snatched out of my hands. The books was a quick, easy read and very enjoyable but still….what was missing? Where was the magic? Well friends and neighbors (yes, I am stealing this from Stephen King) there was also guilt invading my imaginary world.

While trying to lose myself in my story I was constantly distracted by other things; I should be blogging, I should be taking pictures, I should be knitting, I should be doing my budget. I have begun to loath any thought that starts with “I should…”. Knitting, blogging, editing pictures and reading all involve sitting, which is a concept I take issue with. When there is abalance between activity and leisure the world is pretty much okey dokey in my book -pun intended- but when you spend so much time sitting in comparison to moving, I feel like my time sitting should be productive. I row every morning, and usually run every night. The best part of being an insomniac is that there are more hours in the day to accomplish everything you want to, but between work and sitting at home working I just feel lazy. So now the internal debate of how to handle all the things that bring me joy while off my feet is raging in my head.

How to handle a conflict of interest with two things you love? Striking a balance seems the best way, but can that fully eradicate the feeling of guilt? When you know how short and precious life is, how can you not want to do everything you love everyday? Besides the fact that I know this is an impossibility, I am still going to figure out if I can do it. Denial is a strong motivator.

Want to get to know me a little better? Here are some of my favorite books (or at least the first ones that popped into my mind). Enjoy.

Stay tuned for Part 2! And if you are still with me, let me know what you like to read or how you balance your time, I would love any suggestions I can get.

The most technologically efficient machine that man has ever invented is the book.

-Nathan Frye

The Cabin in the Woods

Oh sweet oasis, how I have needed you! We have been renting cabins in Hocking Hills for years, the quaint cabins are set deep into wooded groves surrounding a lake where you can frolic in the clear water or waste an afternoon in one of the boats just drifting away the hours. I love it here, it is the only place I’ve ever been to that can completely purge my scatterbrained mind so completely. It is my Heaven on Earth.

Hocking Hills

Pieces of my most favoritist place on Earth!

I packed my bag with almost no care; changes of clothes and my ever ready dopp-kit were thrown haphazardly into a duffle bag with almost no thought, except maybe for comfort. It was the other bag, the goodie bag of awesomeness that I took care with; my camera, my iPod and it’s speakers, two books and a couple of WIPs for good measure. These were the items I cared about, the ones that wouldn’t make a trip into nature feel complete without their presence, and the best part of this nature is NO CELL PHONE SERVICE. That fact alone removed the knots in my shoulders and the heartburn that starts in my knees.

When we arrived, did I mention my husband was along for the trip? Well, he was, so there. Where Trevor and I are concerned there is no such thing as awkward silences, and being in the cabin we tend to do our own things together. If that makes sense. We’re both so absorbed in soaking up the carefree vibes that even being apart brings us together. This probably makes no sense, every marriage is a secret between two people as it should be, but I always feel closer to him in the cabin. Getting away from all the distractions that make you want to pout like a big, pissed off baby are all gone and you are just with each other again. Peace can do that I suppose.

The view from the cabin's deck.

The view from the cabin’s deck.

Anywho- Arriving made the stress melt away almost immediately, as if it never existed. We curled up on the outdoor couch and began devouring the books we had brought. Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars were my picks for the weekend and although they fall on very different ends of the literary spectrum, they were both incredible. If I had half the talent of the book reviewers I have read recently I would review them for you, but since I don’t I highly suggest you look into them for yourselves! There was a natural, natural to me it seems, migration from the couch to the boat with our books, the water lapping against the sides lulls one into a story, and for me this is the most conducive environment for creativity. So, on to the knitting.

WIP- Baby Blanket

WIP- Baby Blanket

Of course I only took one picture of things I am working on, I am prepared like that! The baby blanket to the left is for a friend of mine. I always do a swatch to see not only gauge and texture, but also to frame. I think it is nice to have a frame swatch of the baby blanket you bring your baby home with to keep as a memento, plus I never feel like I am wasting yarn! This swatch is going to suck to frame because the texture is so raised, the the blanket (God willing) is going to be beautiful.

Second in progress baby blanket.

Second in progress baby blanket.

This second guy here is also a baby blanket but will be far easier to frame. I love doing baby blankets for people because it is fun to always try out a new stitch pattern. I sit down, or email people all the different stitches and patterns that are available to them and let them choose. We go through size, weight, pattern, color and of course material. Most choose acrylic for obvious reasons but I have made several christening blankets from silk that were just a joy to have on my needles. Also, just as a forewarning, this will probably be my stitch pattern for this week. It was taken from my great-grandmother’s book and is absolutely hysterical the way she wrote it.

If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in there because this post is turning into something more like a tome. The vacation was great, the knitting is fantastic, but life can still suck the root when you get back home. The biggest part of living in a society where everyone is sharing everything is that, well, baby pictures are everywhere. Baby pictures, pregnancy pictures and manically grinning families is something you are bombarded with on a daily basis. The biggest hiccup in my life is that I have always suffered from severe emetophobia; a fear of vomiting. To be honest just typing that word has the ability to make my heart start to race and my palms sweat. When you desperately want to be a mother but know that where you are now, even with therapy and medication (yup, they medicate phobias) would never work, it is fucking devastating. Pardon the foul language but I know no other way to get my point to bluntly across.

Knitting baby blankets is something I do because I LIKE doing it. The idea of making something that will bring a new life into their new home is pretty amazing, it just knowing you may never get to bring your OWN baby home in your creation that is devastating. I won’t go any further, for another post perhaps, just popped into my head. Even if nobody reads this at least the thought is out of my head, forever in black and white, and I can go back to doing what I do, going back into the real world, needles clicking all the time.

Besides, who looks happy to see us!

Look at the excitement!

Look at the excitement!

Week 4 Stitch Pattern!! & Photo Editing for Arthritic Photographers and Knitters

For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath to see a picture of a stitch pattern, today is your lucky day!


Coral Knot Stitch? Sure LOOKS like it to me!

For non knitters, feel free to skip to the second portion of this post. For you knitters out there, I would like to share to with you how my GG wrote this pattern circa 1942 – verbatim . My translation of this antique pattern will be boldly italicized for emphasis, and sheer goofiness.

Cst on 44 sts. – Cast on 44 stitches (so far so good)

-Base: Knit 4 rows all knitting –  Knit 4 Rows Garter Stitch (Good, good. I’m following you).

*Begin Pattern – Begin Pattern (ok, so I’m feeling like a bit of a smart ass here, you’ll see why)

R1-k2sts,k1st, marry k2sts through,k1sts. – Row 1: K2, K1 *K2tog*  continue till last st., K1. (The “marrying” of two stitches came down to some sort of combination stitch so that wasn’t too painful, only slightly complexing)

R2-k1sts, kbottom up but NOT below through, k1sts – Row 2: K1, *K into strand between* continue till end, K1 (It took a stitch dictionary to figure out that knitting from the “bottom but NOT below” had to mean that something was going on in the middle. There was a bit of frogging going on in this pattern before I gave up and used the book, but it was worth it)

R3k – Row 3: Knit

R4 Frontknit – Row 4: Purl (What is front knitting? Well, as she was taught you pulled the yarn “close to your heart” and knitting toward the body. This I found in her own personal notes on a pair of gloves that she knitted in 1972).

End of true confessions!

But not the end of the post!


High Definition of Pattern.


Picture of pattern with changes in saturation, and a frame because why not?!

What fun it is to delve into the minds of other people’s shorthand! I have some absolutely hysterical patterns written by her and I hope to share that, after all she is my history and you should learn from history. Unfortunately none of the scraps of paper and scrawl are able to get a good scan without some editing finesse, and thus comes part duex of my post:

Photo Editing for Blogs and Genealogy Documents

I don’t want to get into this into too much depth now, but 4 years ago I had a pretty severe injury to my hand that has left me as an arthritic knitter with only my thumb and pointer finger on my right, and dominate hand, fully functional. I had to learn to write again, use utensils and of course knit (but that’s for another day). It has also taken away a great deal of my ability to stabilize a camera while shooting. I lust after my ability to take a good photo again, to be able to hold the behemoth camera in my hand and get the shot in frame and not fuzzy. Relearning will take time, just as everything else has taken time, but good LORD it’s frustrating!

Getting back to my point, I am trying to use several different photo editing tools to try to restore my pictures to something I wouldn’t be ashamed to show other people, especially when there is so much talent evident in the blogging world.  A friend of mine, a student majoring photography here at CSCC in Ohio gave me two different applications to try out; Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 and Adobe Photoshop & Premiere Elements 11. Now, I have used some photo editing in my day, but really I just preferred to let the pictures I was taking talk for themselves, plus I like the darkroom which isn’t really conducive with computer re-imaging. Plus I am old and stubborn and at 28 very set in my ways.

So now I am inundated with information on how to use this software correctly and confidently, neither emotion I am feeling at this particular time. The layout and format seems simple until you want to get more in-depth the your image, then I am out of my ballpark laughing at myself so hard I am nearly apoplectic. Clearly the photographs above have been edited, simply; change the saturation, bring up contrast, sharpen, and add a frame because now I can do that and damn it, that makes me happy.

So now, in addition to my Blog Envy I can add Photoshop Envy (always in capital letters in my head) to the list. Life would be boring with challenges I guess, they make you feel alive and remind you that you should never stop trying to learn new things. They can also make you want a hole to open up in the ground and swallow you whole. I prefer the former but relate to the latter.


The majority of this long, hot day has been spent on the telephone and knitting. Papaw is obviously missed, and it seems everyone came out of the woodwork to call “just because”. I think it is adorable that people call and try to pretend that they are not checking up on you, it gives me the sense that I am not alone in missing my Papaw today, and maybe a little warm and fuzzy as well.


Finished Seed Stitch Scarf with Moda-Dea Yarn.

Plus it seems that being stuck on the phone for the majority of the day is the perfect catalyst for knitting, I finished two WIPs today! I don’t want to say it is a universal truth that people wanting to share in grief don’t like silence, but the amount of dancing around the issue seems true across the board. I have heard from people I haven’t heard from in a year and spent nearly an hour on the phone with my grandmother reliving the greatest hits of my Papaw’s life. Things I didn’t remember, things I will never forget, almost all of them gut-bustingly funny.

He would LOVE that.

So now it is evening, a time during which I am normally asleep but still awake today and full of knitting potential. I believe that I will put on my audiobook, I am listening to It by Stephen King and can I just say that Steven Webber as a narrator is phenomenally good? I was so unexpectedly delighted by how he made some of my favorite characters come to life. So with that, and probably a very poorly written post (I am half asleep to be brutally honest, but the phone is sure to ring again anytime now) I will leave you with my favorite quote from my new favorite audiobook.

Don’t it make you want to go home?
Don’t it make you want to go home?
All God’s children get weary when they roam
Don’t it make you want to go home?
Don’t it make you want to go home?
– Joe South

Submission Guidelines

Super excited about this.

The Digital Lightroom

When you’re ready to submit your picture to the DLR Photography Competition, follow these few simple steps..

  • Ensure your picture is in JPEG format.
  • If possible, resize your image to 1000 pixels in width or 1000 pixels in height if portrait.  Most photo processing programs have a resize facility that allows you to specify pixel width and height.
  • Rename your file to include your name and the title of the picture.  To rename a file in Windows, right-click on the image, select ‘rename’ from the drop down menu and type your name and the title of your picture in the box. Press return or left click to close the editor. On a Mac, click on the file, hit the return key and then type in the new details.

Rename File

  • Email your image to  It is very important to include photo submission in the subject box.  Gmail filters are used…

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A Suiting Memorial for my Grandfather & the Best Dirty Joke. Ever.

I hope to draw you into the the diatribe that is the rest of this post by giving you perhaps the Best Dirty Joke. Ever. In my mind, it is always in capitals, perhaps on a marquee surrounded by big flashing lights and hoards of people gripping their sides and crying tears of utter contentment.


      The Hallmark Company was going to hire a person to write verses for their new line of greeting cards. The Executives were interviewing two people who had applied for the job. One was a Harvard graduate; the other one was a man from Eastern Kentucky

One of the Hallmark Executives gave the two applicants their directions: STAND AND RECITE A VERSE THAT CONTAINS THE WORD “TIMBUKTU” .

The Harvard man jumped up and said he would go first. He said:

              Far across the dessert sands

Camels traveled in caravans.

One by one, two by two,

Destination Timbuktu.

Well, the Hallmark people clapped and cheered and said that was really good for such short notice.

Then the man from eastern Kentucky stood. He pulled up his pants high about his waist and said:

Well. Up in the woods Tim and I went.

We Found three whores and a BIIIG old tent.

Them bein’ three and us being two,

I bucked one, and Tim bucked two.

-Unknown Original Source

This was above and beyond my grandfather’s favorite joke to tell. I cannot think of a family member that does not carry a copy of this in their wallets, have it hanging in their lockers or can recite it from memory on cue.

William Gayle Sovine 1934-2011

William Gayle Sovine & Mary Rose Sovine. 1954

My grandfather, my Papaw, passed away two years ago today. I vaguely remember being shattered by this memory last year. It was a hard year after he passed and knowing that he had missed a whole year with his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren left me feeling emotionally hallowed out. This year, I am able to focus more on the memories that I cherish. These memories of experiences with perhaps the greatest man I have ever known, at least until I met my husband, have shaped me into the person that I am today.

My grandparents love story is epic; I suppose everyone says that and I would undoubtedly believe every word they said, but for me the love story of these two people seems to transcend even the most romantic books ever written. Being an avid reader, I can attest to this fact without pause.

Honestly, at the moment I am a little at a loss of what to write, there are so many things that I want to share; things about my grandparents and their epic love story, a self made man that came from nothing, a correspondence with Norman Rockwell’s that spanned years, a community figure that relished telling excessively dirty jokes and the ever present rock that this family leaned on. It could go on for hours and hours, days and days, and still I would not be satisfied that I had covered all that I wanted to.

Instead, I want to show grief, if you will allow me to do so. This excerpt was written the night he died two years:

      There should be a sense of relief, in the front of my mind I know that this is what he would have wanted. He went with grace and dignity even after 6 months of fighting something that was so obviously killing him. The tumors could be felt beneath the skin, the oxygen tank was ever present and I believe he was ready to let go in the end. To be done with the act of dying.

The last night I spent with him, dozing on the couch next to that awful hospital bed that invade my grandparents home was a perfect example of the ornery goofball I had always known

“Rachel….Rachel…Rachel…FOLK” he hollered from the bed.

“Ok, Ok I’m up, I’m up! What’s going on?” I said with sleep still heavy in my voice.

“Oh nothing, you just looked so peaceful I thought I would wake you up” he said with      that wry grin in his voice.

After that his breathing went down to about three breaths a minute, but he hung on for another full 24 hours. He was a tenor his entire life and the doctor explained that he was breathing so deep from his diaphragm that he was still getting enough oxygen to survive. God he had a beautiful voice, we have been playing his recordings for days or our sake more than is I suppose. A small comfort for a situation that is anything but.

Plans for the funeral are already completed, now all there is to do is survive the next few days and lay him to rest.

*(Please forgive poor grammar, incorrect puncuation and ranting. It was a long day)*

I thought the act of burying him and knowing that is suffering had ended would bring closure to the whole situation. I worked in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Ohio State University to pay for school and have seen hundreds of people die. In all by 3 cases, it was always a blessing rather than a curse.

Didn’t really work out that way.

I missed him more than I thought possible and lingered with this feeling that was always present, something that gets stuck in your teeth and try as you might you keep noticing it’s presence.

The following excerpt was written last year:

      There is a weight, I can feel it in my chest and in my mind even a year later. I have actively avoided going to see the gravesite, so much so I sat in the car in ninety degree weather just to not take that walk of the hill to see where he rest. The picture in my head is that of his coffin being lowered, Trevor and I were the only ones that could stand with my grandmother as this happened while the others fled to safer distances where they would not have to watch. I envy them.

How is this so impossible still? Memories, songs, sights, smells. I feel like since the end of March I have been consumed by my memories and none of them are good. I want to remember the good things but all I remember is the end. How unpalatable it is to perseverate on the memories that cause pain when there was 24 years of damn near magic where his life was concerned. He would hate this; he would hate that any of us are suffering and he would hate that the memories we seem to be left with are the unsavory ones.

The worst part about this is that HE is the one I would call on advice on how to handle the damning situation. The cycle of anger and grief, well, it sucks. Throw out eloquence Rachel it just sucks the root. The scariest thing about all this is the hopefully irrational fear that I will never remember anything good. Six months of doing his hospice care is what I remember, where is the rest?

He would absolutely hate this.

William Gayle Sovine 1934-2011

William Gayle Sovine 1934-2011

I am not ashamed of these feelings or the fact that I am writing so bluntly about them. When loss takes over, we can easily lose ourselves in it. I sure as hell did. But over the last year the seas have calmed, the clouds have cleared and when I speak about him all I feel is a privilege to know that I am more like him than anyone in the family. He is always with me because he is so much a part of my personality and so much of my history. Today, two years after we carried him from the hospice bed to the ambulance (health care providers, of which my family is full, would not allow anyone else to transport him) all I feel is the warmth of memories.

Kuddos to you if you got this far, I hope you have because seeing in black and white that grief passes is something that is so near and dear to me. So, to a wonderful man that gave me my sense of humor, my drive to work hard and my ability to be an uncanny smartass.

He would absolutely love this.

Gone but Never Forgotten

Gone but Never Forgotten

Is Blog Envy a Real Disease?

In this peaceful place that is my grandparents home I had a plan. Enjoy exceptionally good home made food, devour lemon meringue pie that has made my grandmother infamous, catch up on some reading and sit outside and knit. The closed in patio screams to be enjoyed night and day and with the deer wandering aimlessly around the yard it was the quintessential place to relax. It has not gone that way so far.

Yesterday after my post I began to peruse other bloggers out there, and then realized that I have gotten myself into something that is WAY over my head. I have seen and read blogs, no, let’s call it experienced blogs that have absolutely blown my mind. They are so stream line, so appealing to the eye that it is hard to tear yourself away. I have read articulate, eclectic, intelligent (pretty much add any adjective for “good” here) that has made me realize I need to get on the ball! Apparently I underestimated just how important blogging would be. 

I should have known, oh woe is me.

So, I started to tinker with widgets, plug-ins, networking, photos and everything else I could think of only to realize I have only thought of about one-tenth of the things I should be considering. I am so impressed with everyone else’s blog that mine just seemed sad in comparison. I started, oh, about seven hours ago on and off and now I am calling time out.

I forgot about my knitting! I was so busy working on this site that I forgot to knit, which used to be my primary focus. But honestly, I am falling a little in love with the blogging universe and hope to catch up to my betters. Which now rates as just about everyone.

Here is hoping there will be a happy medium between creating things that are beautiful with yarn as well as computer code. Any advice? Feel free to leave it, I can take all I can get. For now, I shall remain humbly awed.

Week 3 Stitch Pattern & A Generous Focus Group. Hazzah!

I think I may be that time again folks! This is the newest stitch pattern brought to you by yours truly! Well, via my GG’s horrendous handwriting, but still!


Ladders Says GG, LADDERS!!

I would like to say that I loved my GG. She was a wonderful woman with a heart of gold and the mouth of a sailor on leave, but her handwriting on this pattern made me want to curl up into the fetal position and eat my own hair! Granted, she was in her eighties when she wrote this down but still, my aching hands and head grew so frustrated by the end that I had almost decided to give up knitting for something less complicated, like….oh I don’t know….brain surgery?

Luckily I had decided to go visit my grandmother this week and had the foresight to bring the pattern with me. After many failed attempts, all of which are now cat toys for Maxwell, my Mimi was able to decipher the handwriting and it was all systems go. More than less likely I should have brought  the patterns down with me to be looked at, but I felt that would take the challenge out of it. Or, I am a masochist. Either way.

The trip to my grandmother’s has been great so far except for one thing; I can’t seem to quit giving my knitting away! The idea behind this trip was to visit not only my grandmother but also to get an idea of what all the women of the bridge club thought of my business idea. I was looking at these wonderful ladies as a focus group. I brought down several things that I have been making and wanted to see what they thought. Of course, I am Mary Rose’s granddaughter, I can do no wrong and I am a genius.

But I already knew that.

Truthfully, I was so humbled by their praise that I just kept giving things away, telling them to go home and test them out. I wanted honest opinions, not just to be fluffed up. That was two days ago and so far the input has been good, and there has even been some constructive criticism to my marketing ideas, to which I am eternally grateful. But leave it to these wonderful women to get me a treat for sharing.


A Bundle of Pure Yarny Goodness!

This batch of yarny goodness was bits and pieces from all of their own stashes, presented to me to make whatever happens to tickle my fancy. I am a lucky, lucky girl. This yarn will go a long way to making prototypes of things I would eventually love to sell, the idea being the more I can make and have tested, the better the end result will be. I am blessed with gracious testes.

So here is to hoping this will go a long way to getting where I would eventually like to be. Worse comes to worst, Max will have more toys than he’ll know what to do with.


Max eagerly awaiting my next knitting mishap. Oh that FACE!

To Those Who Serve, All My Love

My cousin Daylon was sworn in to the United States Army yesterday and I am just bursting at the seams with pride! It got me thinking, as I tend to do in the month of April, of just all the family history surrounding the ones I love and the military.


My Grandmother in what I presume is NOT regulation uniform. She joined my Grandfather in Antigua in 1957, ten months later my aunt Kathy arrived!


This is my Grandfather (Papaw) before shipping out to Antigua. 1956.

This handsome fella is my Grandfather in 1956, just days before leaving for Antiugua where he would not only become a solider, but a father as well. He instilled in his grandchildren a love of country, he even created a Norman Rockwell-esque life for the ones he loved. He was the man who taught me to show respect to the American Flag, to never let the sun go down on it and how to properly fold it. He may have never seen battle but I have no doubt in my mind that he would have given anything to preserve the American Dream for his family, friends and country.


Uncle Phil Naval Officer’s Photo.

My Dad’s Father was a WWII vet who not only served in battle, but got a nifty steel plate in his head for his effort. I say nifty not out of disrespect, rather to quote him because as his 7 children, 21 grandchildren oh so many great grandchildren were growing up he always made us knock on his head for good luck! 

My Dad’ brother Phil (pictured above) has been a career Navy Officer and has traveled the world doing his duty for his county. He talks often about how the best part of any time away from the family was getting a letter or care package from home. Full of homemade items and pictures, he was always kept in the loop about the goings on from the ginormous Catholic family in Ohio. He is the only career in the family, but one of 14 immediate family members that committed themselves to protect the freedom we as American’s are gifted with every day.


Great Grandfather’s WWII Registration Card.


Great Uncle’s Registration Card. They Went into the service together.

There is a rich family history of men going into the service to protect their country, so why is a knitter so fascinated with military service? Well, I got it into my head that there had to be something I could do besides donate blood (which I do every 8 weeks like clockwork) to help the troops. We are not swimming in cash, but I AM swimming in yarn. So with just a few clickity clacks on my keyboard I found an abundance of sites that accept knitted or handmade items for our troops. I have always knitted for Stitches From the Heart but found a few sites that were asking for warm weather wear and LOADS of sites asking for handmade blankets for the injured recovering in hospitals.


My nostalgia bone started tickling when I discovered the Knit Your Bit campaign that was put on by the American Red Cross. There was a time not that long ago that the comfort, health and safety of those who give everything for their country needed knitter’s help to survive. So, feeling rather patriotic with a new charity to knit for and the warm and fuzzies for finding another way to knit for something bigger than myself it is time to cast on!

The Fabric of History Stitches Together (Oh yeah, that was reaching!)

It has been almost 2 years since I lost my grandfather, will be 2 years on April 9th. He was my biggest fan, my own personal cheering section and biggest supporter in shenanigan I got myself into.  When I start missing him I tend to get a little maudlin and go searching for traces of him throughout my home. So every year since his passing my nostalgia leads me to go through the plethora of photographs that he took throughout his life. This year I started to notice a theme that I hadn’t noticed before.


On the Left, my great grandmother Sovine (GG).
On the Right, my great grandmother Guthrie (Mom Mom).
Behind: The knitted blanket made for my grandparent’s wedding in 1954.
Picture taken in 1972.

My great grandmother GG was my grandfather’s mother and the knitter in the family, and as it turns out her knitting is peppered all over these photographs. These range over the course of 42 years with over 5,000 total photographs all told and her knitting has become my new version of Where’s Waldo. 

Traveling to California

In the far right hand corner a blanket that started in West Virginia has traveled through osmosis to California with my Great Uncle Jim and his family.
Taken 1978.

What amazes me is how much interaction there is with her things, especially her blankets. Blankets were always her specialty and they are everywhere! So many of her things are in different states, with different families, snuggling with generations of people and they are all still around today. The appreciation for something not only well made but made with love is evident. Just look how happy my grandma (Mimi) looks after Thanksgiving!


My Mimi fast asleep wrapped in a GG blanket.
Thanksgiving 1984.

I love sharing these photographs, they show without a doubt that no matter what you’ve made or who you made it for, it can last forever. These blankets are still in relatively good condition, but their image in pictures will last forever. We take pictures of the blips in time we want always remember, and even though she and my grandfather are gone, they’ll continue to represent themselves in the pictures we take.

It honors me everyday to be knitting with her needles and creating my own little pieces of history.


My GG in 1956.