Springtime for Merlin

Cannot believe it's been over five months since last I blogged.  Betcha it's Facebook and Twitter and all that instantaneous crap that keeps me from this much more thoughtful process.  Yet it is blogging that provides so much more personal satisfaction.
A lot of things have happened in five months, and yet not much:).  And the pictures that populate this post point out that a lot of knitting has been going on. And a lot of that knitting relates to events that have been going on in the state of Fugue, so why not talk about each bit of knitting and incorporate the life part as we go? How 'bout we start with the things I've finished since January?
The first thing you see here is a project I started February 3rd or thereabouts and finished May 1st. It is a pattern I developed by myself - Raspberry Fields,  the second shawl of its kind.  I loved the color of the Berroco Alpaca yarn and had to knit something pretty in it.  When I learned my dear friend Nancy had an 8-inch mass in her kidney that was almost certainly cancer (it was later determined to be a first-stage malignancy, but the kidney had to be removed before they biopsied it), I knew this was to be her prayer shawl.  I showed it to the Prayer Shawl Ministry group and they agreed, so I proceeded with their blessings:). The terrific news is, Nancy will be fine, although she will have to be even more careful than she was already.  No chemo, no radiation, just be careful of the kidney remaining.  Funny the things for which one learns to be grateful. What I didn't add was that just before her surgery, her husband Rennie, was hospitalized in the ICU for complications that arose from an incident wherein his blood sugar plummeted, poor guy! Well, I never said that her life was boring! Thankfully, two lovely guest organists stood in for her - on Palm Sunday and then during her time in the hospital. But I have to admit, she is truly an excellent musician, and although the two wonderful gentlemen who stood in for her were very talented musicians, it just wasn't the same without her. Thank goodness she's back. I knit this shawl to show her how much she is loved and appreciated.  I hope she knows this.

One of my goals in life is to knit EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the good sense to begin this project.  When our wonderful grandangel, Patricia Jane a/k/a Patty, was born back on October 2, 2012, I had to knit me some pink.  So... I did a little t-shirt for her (below) and the Fiddlehead sweater to the right. Hey, what can I say? I'm a sucker for pink yarn:)

You may recall I mentioned that Raspberry Fields, the prayer shawl I created for Nancy, was the second of its kind. At left is the first one - knitted for an anonymous person to be gifted by our church's prayer shawl ministry.  I heard that the recipient really enjoyed it and that warms my heart. Another shawl of its ilk, also designed by yours truly, I had a lot of fun knitting this.
What I did with both of these shawls was to cast on the HUGEST amount of stitches.  In short, I cast on the two bottom edges.  By decreasing four times (after the edge stitches, before the center pattern, after the center pattern and before the left edge stitches), every right side row,  and changing stitch patterns on the right and left side of the center stitch pattern every 12 rows, I had a pattern that meant a LOT of work at the beginning, with more and more "instant gratification" at the end.  It's for the same reason I enjoy "bottom-up" sweaters: you have the enthusiasm for a pattern at the beginning when you have a lot of work to do, then it gets easier and more interesting as you get to the top. Makes for a much more interesting journey:)
Yet another one of my beautiful daughters had surgery.  
So I knit her this to keep her warm:

I used a sort of half linen stitch pattern (half because I simply purled the back side and offset the slip stitches on the right side), then knit short rows in increases of 14 stitches to create a rounded edge on one long side. Topped off with a ruffled edge to create a shawlette.


Yes, I knit a few pairs of socks and have a few more still on the needles. The first one here, I knit an entire pair of knee socks for my daughter, JoAnna, to go with her to Cleveland for law school.

While I was at it, I knit myself a pair of knee socks to tide me through the Merlin winter:)

 While on a visit to a number of clients in Washington County, near the MD-PA border, I found a lovely yarn shop in Amish country in PA - a lovely place called The Knitting Cottage in Waynesboro, PA. There, I bought a couple of balls of sock yarn - and knit a couple of pair of socks - one for my future daughter-in-law, Robyn (soon to be married to our daughter, Betsy): These were the Knitmore Girls' Vanilla socks (cuff down):

And another for selfish old me - just finished yesterday and on my feet right now as I type this:
This was the Almondine pattern by Anne Hanson of Knitspot fame - from the book Sock Knitting Master Class edited by Ann Budd. It is a great pattern, cuff down, works well with variegated as well as solids.

I have a number of socks still on the needles - an example of which is a pair of Wendy Johnson's Toe-Up Socks with a difference. There was a lovely skein of red sock wool I recently acquired at a yarn swap and some leftover's from Robyn's socks. I might just stick with the red and save the leftovers for another project.

Despite having some 30+ projects on the needles at the start of this year, I have cast on a number of new projects. Some, mentioned above, were finished in a short time.  The scarf at the right below was made from single skeins of yarn also acquired at a yarn swap. My son-in-law, Sonny, was a good match for the colors in that one.  The pretty red thing on the left is one square of a pattern - Dogwood by Tincanknits.  It's in a big old red acrylic yarn - perfect for the couch if I can get up the ambition to do about another 29 squares - and machine washable, of course.
So of course, I make this amazing discovery of a really really good designer by the name of Corinna Ferguson, who designed a lovely series of shawls, created an e-book and called it Seven Sonnets. This little darling is the beginning of the Poe Shawl.  Cannot wait to get back to it. It's in one of the Cascade Yarns Heritage Paints in a colorway that looks to go with a lot of what I have.  With any luck, I'll be able to keep this one;)

Custom Yoke Sweater by Amy Detjen
Oh. My. Goodness.
Craftsy is just wonderful. You get to access videos showing you a new aspect of a craft - in my case knitting or crocheting and maybe one or two cooking or weaving or something classes. Oh boy.  And this one by Amy Detjen is really nice.  And informative. And funny. So far, I've got the body up to the armpits, and one of the sleeves done. Cannot wait to get to the yoke design.  Am I using the one with squirrels? Sadly, no.  I figure I should do something out of Alice Starmore's designs out of either Sweden or Norway.  More to come on this. The yarn has a nice history - I bought it on sale at a lovely store in Williamsburg during our 35th anniversary trip back in October of 2011. They had EVERYTHING:) And you can shop there online, too (oh dear oh dear oh dear!!).

Every so often I get e-mails from Elann.com and download a pattern or two or pick up a few balls of yarn. I decided to use some Tahki Stacy Charles cotton yarn and knit up the Natalie Tank and make a Natalie Tee shirt instead for this coming summer.  We'll see how that works out:)

Just as dear Nancy was dealing with her cancer scare, poor John ended up with some horrible back pain.  The disc pain he'd been having for years finally hit home for him.  After trying the non-surgical route for years, it became painfully (sorry) apparent that surgery would be necessary. It wasn't until he was getting his pre-surgical exam in the waiting area on the date of his surgery 10 days ago, that I realized how serious this really was.  Poor guy couldn't even lift his left leg.  So not only was he in pain, he was losing feeling and strength in his left leg.  As the nurse-anesthetist said - the trifecta. So my husband went in for what ended up being a twelve-hour ordeal: Two hours of prep, Six+ hours of surgery and four hours in the recovery room when his blood pressure was so low, they almost put him into the ICU. He lost a lot of blood during surgery - because he forgot that the baby aspirin he had been taking for his heart was likely to make his platelets less than optimum. OY! The next day, he ended up getting a couple of units of blood and that seemed to do the trick. Then his gut stopped working - not unusual, we've been told - but not fun.  He finally came home a day late on Sunday and has been gradually working toward improving. It seems to me the surgery was a success.  He no longer has the excruciating pain he had before.  However, he has a way to go in terms of other aspects of his recovery. I don't think he's going to be lifting anything for a LONG time. I am glad I had the surgery I had two years ago so I can be in good enough shape to pitch in.
Oh, and did I tell you, dear reader, that our lease is up in July? oh yeah. That's going to be interesting. Times like this, I am very grateful for our six wonder kids!
So, whilst I waited through the surgery - surrounded with the prayers of Mimi, our deacon,our friends from St. John's and St. Peter's and from work - and accompanied by our various kids:) and the prayers of family - I knitted to pass the time.  I knitted the tank/t-shirt above and worked on one of Renee Leverington's beautiful Mystery Shawls - the 2013 Spring Mystery Shawl, which I called my Spring Mystery St. Agnes Shawl.

This pattern is supposed to use beads - something I wasn't about to contemplate in a hospital waiting room or patient room - especially when one is there to help the patient, LOL:).  Instead of a bead, I decided to put a 9-stitch nupp.  So far, I think it's working well.  The yarn is from Dancing Leaf farms - a fuzzy off-white yarn that seems to be doing the trick.
John is finally home as I said, and I have taken a couple of weeks off from work to help him out as he negotiates life not being able to bend for a long while.I must say he's been a good sport, but this is getting old for him. Sometimes we have to deal with the reality of what life is right now and it's a tough thing to do.  He's been used to being the big guy who takes care of everyone else.  It's hard for him to let us take care of him. Yet we all want to. It will be OK in the end.  It's the interim that is always toughest.
Finally, I have one more project I started just this week.  Ever since I bought the book Knitting in Two Colors by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen, the cover has always intrigued me.  Then Schoolhouse Press came out with Meg's design of the Norwegian Rose Cardigan and I had to get that pattern. I dug in my stash and supplemented a little with some white wool purchased at the Cloverhill Yarn Shop in Catonsville.  I had to start this. Haven't done a really nice colorwork cardigan since I knit Nancy's Westerwick (pattern design by fellow Middlebury Alumna Ann Feitelson) a couple of years ago.This one is for me.  I decided to knit the largest size with the idea that it would be a nice jacket either as outerwear or a suit jacket worn with a navy blue or purple skirt for court. I plan on knitting about 20 rounds and seeing what my gauge will be.  If  it's too large, oh well, I will rip out and start again. But this will be done right!

Well, that's all for now. Hoping your knitting and your lives bring you joy.
God be with you 'til we meet again+


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