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December 2012

My Knitting and Crochet, and NaNoWriMo

Mouse 49 is done:

Mouse 49

I got the right front of the little sweater done:

RF done
It was nice of Nicky to help out holding it up!

I worked on the In A Spin CAL, finishing the Wheel Lattice block for week two:

Week2In a Spin CAL
Isn't it pretty? I like it. It's a 12" square and next week's square is only 6". Of course there would be a 6" square, aand two 12" squares to during the final weeks of NaNoWriMo. Of course. And as soon as NaNoWriMo is over, all I have to do is a 6" square. Of couse. But!! I knew that might be the case when I signed up for it! So I put my crochet hook in four-wheel-drive and persevered!

And finally, NANOWRIMO IS OVER!!!!!!!! Yay!! I succeeded in writing a novel that was 50,278 words in length. Now I'm going to file it away so I never have to look at it again. It's that bad.

I learned from doing NaNoWriMo that I can write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days; or more importantly, I can write every day like it's my job. Because people, writing is really hard work. Really hard. You have to push yourself to do it, write when it's the last thing you feel like doing, write when you know it really sucks, write when you don't even know what is going to happen next. You just write anyway. Every day you write though, you're getting better. You just don't think you are.

Kind of like physical or occupational or speech therapy. You can't get better at anything if you just give up.

Evernote Holiday Craft-along!

Evernote has teamed up with Chronicle Books to have the Evernote + Chronicle Books Holiday Craft-along! You can join! I did. To join, just RSVP to the Facebook page, complete one of the projects by December 25th, and send a photo of your completed project to [email protected]. You might win a prize! They're choosing a random winner to get a goody bag from Evernote and Chronicle Books.

Projects include:

  • Make a homemade gift
  • Craft a homemade centerpiece
  • Create a homemade table decoration
  • Create a holiday floral decoration
  • Make a homemade paper invitation

The prize includes seven great crafting books from Chronicle, as well as Evernote prizes. 

You can use Evernote to clip a pattern from the web, organize pictures you nab from stores or at Christmas parties, get organized for your holiday plans. I have my gift list  on mine. You can even share things via Evernote with your friends. You can collaborate with partners to throw a holiday bash. 

I love my Evernote. I use it for everything. It's like the big Trapper Keeper in the sky; it holds everything and keeps it organized. And it's free! I pay for mine, because I have a load of stuff and I use it all the time. But you don't need to pay to use it, you can just use it first and pay if you love it and need more space. It's a good thing.

Tick Tock, People

It's less than a month to Christmas.

Does that sentence fill you glee or with dread? 

It fills me with glee. My Christmas presents are almost all made, the advent calendars are delivered, the house is decorated (well ... we never take down our Christmas village, hehe, it's up all year), and now I'm just waiting for the Christmas spirit to lay it's eggs on me. Or whatever. I really like Christmas.

We have a slew of Christmas movies to watch, and we'll parse them out over the next month. Christmas music will fill the hours when I am no longer working on NaNoWriMo. Oh yes, and NaNoWriMo will be done, and I will have beaten it into submission. That's the best thing of all!

Christmas Countdown

Small Things Make Me Curl My Toes and Laugh

When I finished my NaNo writing for the day yesterday, I felt like I was dragging mightily. You know how it is. Getting everything to come out right, when you don't even know exactly what you're shooting for, is very hard. 

Next year, I will make an outline. Or maybe, next year, how about not NaNo-ing at all? Sounds good to me, right now anyway. Heh.

So anyway, needing a break, I read my blog mail from Typepad because everything else seemed really hard, and there was a post about using CSS to add drop caps into my posts. I do know what CSS is, but like everything else I learned a long time ago, I didn't really learn enough to use it. :::facepalms:::

But this seemed good, so I tried it, and damn if it didn't work! Way to go Typepad! Now I feel all special and stuff. 

You may need to click refresh a few times to see my drop caps. If you can't see them, I'm sorry. I tried. It works for me, and frankly, it made my toes curl with joy.


Free Knitting Book

This book might be a good puzzle for you: Exercises in Knitting, by Cornelia Mee. The Kindle edition is free, but there's no illustrations and there's no key to help you understand the terminology.

I had to use my search engine to figure out the publication date (sorry, my brain was fried by writing NaNoWriMo). "MDCCCXLVI" translates to 1846. Before the Civil War. Yikes. 

Cornelia Mee is the "Authoress of a Manual for Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Work", and she published her third thousand (!) in London on Fleet Street.

So it's no wonder that my feeble little brain can't figure out what "First row: -- Seam 4 stitches, cast on 6 stitches, seam 4, cast on 6 stitches, and repeat," means. Upon further perusal, I think "seam" and "seamed" means "purl" and "purled".  Just a hunch. 

Even the titles are difficult to figure out. What the heck is a "penwiper" and why would you want to knit one? It's knit in three colors of "German wool." I somehow want to make one.

Unfortunately these are just pattern stitches I think; the number of stitches don't seem right to cast on. A comforter only takes 39 sitches. On the other hand, maybe a comforter is a kind of scarf. On the other other hand, there are pattern for garments (I know this because there are sleeves): there's a pattern for an "Under Spencer". Interesting!

Anyway, sometime I think unraveling Cornelia Mee's projects would be quite stimulating. But not right now! 

Things I Used To Do Before NaNoWriMo

Or more appropriately, Things I Used To Do Before NaNoWriMo Sucked All My Energy and Time Away.

1. Knit. I used to like to knit. Remember during the Ravelympics when I knit a whole Aran sweater in 14 days? Yeah. That was easier than writing.

2. Spin. I used to occasionally spin fiber into yarn. 

3. Read. I remember reading, dimly. I think I used to like it.

4. Listen to music. I think music is wonderful ... and if I make it to the end of this month, I plan to listen to it again.

5. Write interesting blog posts that are not lists of one-word items.

I think I need a pep talk. Here are some by a few of my favorite authors:

Neil Gaiman

Robin McKinley

Tom Robbins


My novel is titled "Je Ne Sais Pas" which means "I Don't Know", hehe. Sheesh. Another week to go!


My Knitting and Crochet

Are you stuffed after that wonderful dinner? Time to put your feet up and knit! 

Heeeeere's Mouse 48:

Mouse 48

I got my other, bigger square done in the In A Spin crochet-along:

Squares 1 & 2

Today we get another square to make. So exciting!

My Mendocino cardigan is going slowly, due to Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo, and stuff:

Right Front
I'm only making a size to fit someone two or three years old, and I'm using aran weight yarn; why is it going so slow?? It's coming along, though. It'll speed up after November 30th! 

Designed by Beth: 2 Color Hat

What a charming title, right? I must have been feeling really unimaginative when I came up with that one, sheesh.

Anyway, it's another hat pattern, and though it is pictured in purple and white (I used lupine and natural Bartlettyarn), it looks fantastic in more manly colors too, and it's a pretty quick knit for the holiday season.


2-Color Hat


•Bartlettyarn or Christopher Sheep Farm yarn: 1 skein each Color A (main color) and Color B (contrast color)

•size 7 16-inch circular needle

•size 7 double pointed needles

•a tapestry needle


Gauge: 4 1/2 sts and 5 rows equals 1 inch in Fair Isle pattern; 4 3/4 sts and 7 rows equals 1 inch in plain stockinette

Size: Adult Medium

Hem: With Color A and circular needle, cast on 96 sts. Join, being careful not to twist sts. Place marker to mark end of round. Work in stockinette stitch for 24 rounds. Form Picot Edge: (yo, k2tog) around. Working in stockinette, join Color B and complete Trim chart 1; work 1 round plain in Color A; work Snowflake chart 2; work 1 round plain in Color A; work Trim chart 3. Break off Color B. Work even in Color A until 6 inches or fesired height above Picot Edge.

Decrease for top: Work as follows, switching to double pointed needles when necessary.

Round 1: *k 2, k2tog* around.

Rounds 2 - 7: Knit around.

Round 8: *k 1, k2tog* around.

Rounds 9 - 12: Knit around.

Round 13: *k 1, k2tog*around.

Round 14 - 16: Knit around.

Round 17: *k 1, k2tog*around.

Round 18: Knit around.

Round 19: *k2tog* around.

Break yarn, pull end through all remaining stitches and pull to tighten the top together. Weave in all ends on the inside. Sew hem to inside of hat. Attach pom pom or tassel if desired.


Glossary and Abbreviations:

K = knit


st(s) = stitch(es)



Download 2-Color Hat.pdf (206.3K)

My Spinning

I felt bad about not spinning last week, so I vowed to spin at least one day this week, and that's what I did. I spun one day.

To prove it, I took pictures. 

Here is some predrafted roving:


Here is what I spun in an hour:


Looks about the same, no? Sigh. 

Here is the itty bitty amount of fiber that I have left to spin:


I'd say NaNoWriMo is the reason, but it's not, really. That only takes me a couple hours to do. I think I'm just a slow spinner (I can hear Sharon in the background saying, "Ha!").

I will try to spin the rest of the orange before the end of 2013. Really, I will.

Turkey Sweaters

I read a short story a long time ago, when I was living with Carney, about a family that had turkeys. The parents had to go away for a few days and left the much-older sister to look after the two little boys. She was to make sure that they took good care of the flock of little baby turkeys that had just arrived.

The author spent a hilarious page or two describing how the baby turkeys became featherless, plucked by the boys probably. Anyway, it was their fault, and was the sister mad. The poor little turkeys were shivering, so Big Sister sat the boys down and proclaimed that they had to learn to knit turkey sweaters. Sobered by the thought of their father's wrath when he saw the shivering turkeys, they did just that. With Big Sister's help, they knit little turkey sweaters all day and night, and the turkeys stopped shivering.

Wish I could remember who wrote that story; they deserve a medal.

Somehow when I searched for 'turkey sweaters' I came up with something different, like this:

(photo from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon blog, 2009)

Or this:

(photo from

I guess turkeys wearing sweaters isn't really any weirder than what we wear or make our dogs wear.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Crochet Hooks!

Yesterday I began my first Crochet-along, or CAL as it is known. I am so excited! I don't really crochet much, although I used to back in the 70's and 80's, but you can believe I've forgotten how to do most of it long since. I know that, because I was trying to make this crocheted scarf about four years ago, and I couldn't even figure out the pattern, so I quit.  I've still got the poor half made thing upstairs somewhere; if any super-duper crocheter wants to come by and save it, or teach me what to do, I'm ready.

Anyway. I'm using Knit one, Crochet Too's Paintbox and a size I/5.50mm hook:


The In A Spin CAL starts off, very sensibly  I might add, with two simple blocks to use as a guide, to measure the other blocks, to know how many single crochets should be at each edge so when it comes time to join everything together I don't go nuts. This is the smaller square:

Square 1
It's 6 3/4" square, which is a little bit bigger than it should be, but I'm using worsted weight instead of DK/8-ply weight yarn, and a 5.50mm hook instead of a 5.00mm hook, because I like the fabric it makes better. I think it'll be ok. It's only an afghan; I'm not trying to fit a sweater or anything. I could have used a hook a size smaller to get gauge, but I like how my square looked and felt at this gauge, and I like how easily the hook flowed with the stitches, too.

There's actually two squares this week; a 6-inch square and another 12-inch square just like it, but twice as big. The rest of the weeks will have only one square, I think. The best part: if I get wicked confused and can't figure out how to do something, there's a Ravelry group that I can go to for help! 


My Knitting

    Mice 46 and 47 are here!

Mice 46 & 47

They're so cute!

I finally finished my gray and white marled wool socks:

Gray marl wool socks

They look warm and cosy.

Then it was time to finaly, finally start the Childs Mendocino Cardigan by Alice Starmore. I've been thinking abouth this sweater for months. I chose yarn from my stash to do it in, but I needed to finish a bunch of things first, and yesterday I finally started.

I'm using Fiber Co,'s Organik, which is 70% organic NZ wool, 15% Baby Alpaca, and 15% silk, in the color called Deep Sea Blue. It is a lovely shade of blue, very striking, and the silk in the yarn dresses it up a bit, gives it a sheen, and I think the finished cardigan will move with the wearer in a way that will be fabulous. If we can ever get her to slow down long enough to try it on, that is. It's for a little girl who has the most beautiful blue eyes you ever saw, and this shade of blue will look stunning on her. It's for Christmas, so shhhhhh ....

Here's the start of my gauge swatch:

Gauge swatch started

And here's the start of the right front of the sweater:

Right front begun

Doesn't look like much so far, but it gets better! Actually, it's a pretty easy knit, for an Alice Starmore pattern. 

You may have noticed that I reached the halfway point in my NaNo novel yesterday. I think it's really funny that they call 50,000 words a novel. More like a novella, I think. I've been writing the bare minimum of 1,667 words each day, mostly because I don't really have a story to tell. They call people like me "pantsers", flying by the seat of my pants. I don't know what the heck's going to happen next, so it's always a surprise!

Baby Blankets

I'm going to make a baby blanket, maybe two next year. Our family has a baby coming: my nephew and his wife are expecting, and that, my friends, is the knock of opportunity. I also didn't make a baby blanket for my niece and her husband's baby, because I was in the hospital at the time. She is two  years and almost three months old now, and I'm think she might need a big-girl blanket. You know, for blanket forts and such.

To crochet? or knit? In blocks or strips? Or whole? Lacy? (Seems to me that lacy designs would get their fingers caught, and I don't want to be responsible for yanking kids' digits askew.) Cables? Colorful? What colors?? Make it up, or follow a pattern? (I never designed a baby blanket before.) The possibilities are endless. 

I've seen a lot of baby blankets that I like. I've thought of a few I'd like to design.  But, as a person who has never had kids before, and I really don't interact with them much -- I prefer kids when they're about 10 or 11 or older; I am the grumpy old lady of  children everywhere -- I ask you, what makes a good baby blanket?

It's fun to go through my stash of patterns!

Oat Couture's Curlicue Coverlet


The Adventure Game

Adventure games have been a big part of my life, especially Myst and Riven, two games by Cyanworlds

I loved Myst when it first came out. We had just had a new-fangled thing called a 'CD-Rom' installed in our Apple computer, I think it was a Quadra or something. We fired it up and fell into the marvellous world that was Myst. 

A little later Riven came out; it was even more beautiful than Myst had been. Wahrks sunned them selves on the beach; I used to just sit in this one place I found, high up, and take in the sights and sounds of this make-believe world. For me, it wasn't about solving puzzles or finding answers, it was about the beauty of the world. From then on, every game that came out from Cyanworlds, I pretty much just read the walkthrough to get to see the beautiful images (sorry, puzzle-makers of Cyan, the game just got in the way of ... the game).

It was my ideal picture book, with sounds and sights, with my lights turned off and my earphones on, I could go to Riven (or whatever made up world it was that day) -- no matter if I couldn't smell or taste or feel anything, it seemed real to me.

Still does. Now I have Myst and Riven on my iPhone. Can you believe it? The fan community used to laugh at the idea when it first arose, long before there was such a thing as apps for your phone. I still go in, and I still don't solve the puzzles, but I enjoy the scenery. 


In A Spin

I started a new Crochet-Along, because Start-itis is my middle name. You might think my middle name is Louisa, but you'd be wrong. It's Start-itis.

It all started with The Creative Crochet Crew over on Facebook. They had a link to a square that I liked, it's from SpinCushions over at Spinatomy,  and it turns out that there's a crochet-along starting November 16th! In A Spin has a ravelry group and a Photobucket group. It's gonna be really fun. 

We're going to make a block a week, not sure how many blocks all together. SpinCushions is still figuring stuff out. She's using 7  200-gram balls of DK cotton; I am using stashed yarn, 1800 yards or so of a worsted weight. She recommends a 5.00mm hook, and I'll start with that, but I may go up a size or two.

The blocks range from beginner level to more ambitious levels; the idea is, you will learn new things as you go. You just need to know basic crochet to start out. I am all about learning new things! It helps my brain. 

My Knitting

Meh. My knitting hasn't gotten very far this week. It seems the walls were stormed by an influx of words that needed to be typed. Also, no mouse this week; he couldn't couldn't make it through the myriad of words that was teeming around him. Maybe Nicky or Nora got him (probably not Grace, despite her love for food), maybe there was cheese, or something. I'll try for next week.

Meanwhile, I did a very little sock knitting:


I'll try to finish it by next week, but there's no guarantee.

I'm right on track with my NaNo-ing, 13,388 words to date, and I've still got to write today's words. Then, back to sock knitting!

:::goes off, brandishing her laptop and her knitting needles:::

A Library on Wheels

Since I've been playing around with writing. I've started to really examine the writing in my life. I loved reading when I was a kid. I loved reading -- well, listening to, followed by reading -- Winnie the Pooh with my sister, reading Dr. Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish book, and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, .... basically, that's all I remember from my childhood. I also vaguely remember a blue book about a kangaroo, but I have no details. And I believe my first chapter book was Bambi. I read a lot more; I just can't remember what things I read.

I do remember the Bookmobile. I can still see it, smell the smells of all the books. The bookmobile was a wonderful thing, living in rural northern Maine. When I was a kid, the closest public library was the Presque Isle Library, and that came later as a place to explore. I remember being very impressed by their collection of Nancy Drew mysteries. 

Bookmobiles have an interesting history. They began in Cumbria, England in 1857; needless to say, it was horse-drawn, so it wasn't really a bookmobile as much as a bookcart, but you get the idea. In the U.S., in Chester County, South Carolina they had a mule-drawn portable book system around 1905, carrying books to rural areas. I think it was in the 1950's that bookmobiles really took off; I remember checking books out from the bookmobile in the 1960's.

There are other types of bookmobiles worldwide: there's the Camel Library Service in Kenya (The Camel Bookmobile is a novel written by Masha Hamilton featuring it); there's the library ship, Epos, serving western Norway; and Elephant Libraries in Thailand. All three sound like fun ways to get the word out!

Rockport has a good library about two stone's-throws from my house. I have never been there ... Amazon delivers.

(photo: Syracuse bookmobile, 1969, from

The Little Knitter

Little Knitter

This has always been one of my favorite knitting pictures, The Little Knitter by William-Adolphe Bougeureau, 1879. The little girl looks Italian, or French; she's on a street in Rome, or Paris, and somehow you just know that despite the fact that she makes stockings, she is barefoot underneath her skirts. But behind that expression that says, "Oh, right, another artist? Sure, I'll stand here knitting -- while you pay me!" (somehow I don't think she got paid much), she is happy. She knits while she fetches things from the shops for her mother, or while she goes to tend goats or sheep or whatever, but she is really happy, because she can knit. It gives her something to have pride in, and it's a way to earn solid money. She knows it's fun, too. 

William-Adolphe Bougeureau was the greatest artist of his time; but he is little known now. He painted at the best schools, in the Academic style, won many awards, and exhibited in the Paris Salon for his entire working life. He was known throughout Europe. He married, had children, bought a big house in Montparnasse. He rose steadily in his career and never had a setback.  But as much as he was loved by the traditionalists, he was equally reviled by the avante-garde. In the words of the bumper sticker, "He who wins the war, gets to write the history."

So you have probably heard of artists like Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne -- and their work is beautiful, I don't want to say otherwise -- but after his death,  after 826 paintings, Bougeureau was outcast, he wan't even mentioned in many encyclopedias. 

But, I have always loved The Little Knitter.

My Spinning

Still spinning the orange:


Here's what I have left:


Still loving it! I should be ready to ply it Thursday or Friday. This is going to come out pretty truly a sock weight. I haven't put any nylon or silk in it, but I think I'll knit a pair of socks with it ... they may wear out, but gee, I'll just have to spin some more yarn and knit them again!

10 Writers I'd Like to Meet

Do you know, back in the 70's and 80's, the TV show called Meeting of Minds, with Steve Allen? It was set up like a talk show, but it was carefully scripted; actors portrayed historical figures and were asked questions by Steve Allen, giving thought-provoking answers, and getting thought-provoking comments from the other guests.


From the website, "Meeting of Minds encourages  the viewer and reader, who may be historically illiterate, to become more familiar with the great thinkers and doers of the past and to whet their appetites for more research and study." 

I'd like to do that with writers, put them together in a room and just let them talk. Here is a list of a few I'd like to hear:

1. William Shakespeare. I can't help it. I'm an English major.

2. Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Ditto. His Idylls of the King is written on my heart, as is his poetry.

3. Ayn Rand. Her books were powerful and amazing. Atlas Shrugged is one of my all-time favorites.

4. Elizabeth Wayland Barber, who wrote Women's Work: The First 20,000 years, and Mummies of the Urumchi, and Pre-Historic Textiles. Love her books.

5. Stephen King. Not all his books are scary. His characters and plots are wonderful.

6. Anne McCaffery, mistress of the dragon in literature. I want to go to Pern.

7. Diana Gabaldon, time-travel writer extraordinaire. (Sigh ... I love Jamie).

8. Kurt Vonnegut. He made me laugh all through high school.

9. Isaac Asimov. He made me wonder and think all through high school.

10. C. S. Lewis. Who doesn't want to go back to Narnia every now and then?


What writers would you like to see?

Learning to Cook All Over Again

One of the hardest things for me to realize about my stroke is that on scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is being shaky for a day or so, and 10 is dying, my stroke was an 8.5 or 9. Some would say 9.5, but I have to believe somewhere out there is someone worse off than I. 

It's hard to believe. I just keep on going, you know? Keep on getting better, keep on getting around, keep on knitting and spinning. Last week I started cooking supper for us again. With one hand. It's really hard, but it gives me purpose. It becomes one more thing I can do so my husband won't have to do it all himself. It's been three years, I have done cooking before, but this is the first time I've taken it on as something to do regularly, every day.

I find that going slowly, being patient, is the key. Just getting to the sink and back is something I have to think about. Peeling cloves of garlic, such a sticky little chore. Taking the ends off green beans, an endless job. Peeling potatotoes -- no longer can I peel nice, long peelings, I have to make short, little peelings because my cutting board, which has three prongs sticking up to hold the potato, only lets me peel a little tiny peeling at a time. I have thrown out all that I knew before, and I'm finding ways to cook that are different from anything that seems logical. It's like cooking underwater in slow motion. 

It feels good, though. Cooking is good for the soul :)


My Knitting

Mouse 45 is done:

Mouse 45

Nicky didn't even know he was there.

I finished my brown hat:


I'm knitting gray marl wool socks now. These are 100% wool, the leftovers from the wool sweater I made early this year; I'm using size 5 needles, and my own pattern which is based on the Yankee Knitter #29, Classic Socks for the Family, except I don't have that pattern anymore, so I'm guessing how many stitches to cast on, how high to make the heel flap, how to turn the heel, stuff like that. You'd think with worsted weight socks, I could knit them pretty fast, but it feels like this is going slow. 


I think the problem is my needles. They are Britanny 5" size fives, and I didn't like them when I had two hands, let alone one, so therefore I don't work on them. I'm using them instead of my longer size 5's because they are handmade birch, and too grabby with the wool, and I can't knit fast with them. I should get metal needles that will slide effortlessly, some cheap aluminum needles would do nicely. But I don't even do that, hehe. I am such a wimp. 

Oh, and NaNoWriMo?

Words I should have done by now: 1,667

Words I have written: 1,710

Go me!

To NaNo, or not to NaNo...

... that is the question. 

I want to participate in NaNoWriMo, and then again, I don't. It makes me want to put my head down and sleep. I can't think of anything to write about. 

Writing. I'm in love with the idea of writing, I love to write when it takes over my mind, my body, and I write because I just can't stop, when the words are pouring, gushing out of me, I'm overflowing with ideas .... I love that. But lately, the well has dried up and frankly, it needs some serious priming. 

So. To NaNo, or not to NaNo. 


Can you write 50,000 words about not having anything to write about? Can you write about the search for an idea? I looked over the forums at NaNoWriMo, and people have got their outlines all ready, their character descriptions, their place settings, they are soooo ready ... I don't even have an idea of what to write about.

I have a laptop with unlimited pixels, though. I have coffee. Who needs ideas, I can make ideas, given enough incentive. Bring it on, 50,000 words, I am ready to prime my writing pump with you. Sneer at me if you must, you snively little words. "I" counts the same as "antidisestablishmentarianism" in the word count! Even this blog post word count is up to 216 words! 

"Are you in charge here?"

"No, but I'm full of ideas!"

        --- Dr. Who