Pattern: Cascata, by Filipa Carneiro, published in Rosarios4.
Yarn: I believe the yarn is by Reynolds. It is a light DK weight wool and acrylic blend yarn I bought sometime in the mid-1980s. Mom loved mauve (and all its variations), so I knitted a lacy vest for her. She did not wear it much because it was too nice for “everyday” wear, and she didn’t want to get it dirty. I brought it back after she died and took it apart, and now it is Cascata.
Modifications: I love the lace “cascade” on the left side, but did not like how rapidly the triangle grew because of the every 4th row increases. So, I alternated the increases on both the lace panel as well as on the right (along the faux seam). I like my sweaters to cover my hips, so I knitted all 138 rows of the lace charts. I also started with 138 stitches at the top, as though knitting size XXS, and adjusted all the directions as needed to compensate. Finally, I did not like how large the arm holes were on the original cap sleeves. I had enough yarn, so I made the sleeves elbow length.
Thoughts: I don’t usually like in-the-round yoke construction, but the designer took care to shape the neckline so that there were no “puffy” areas, and the front and the back sit properly on the neck and shoulders. I also like the yo increases as a design element. This was a fast knit, and a lovely pattern for Mom’s yarn.
Bear is a sweet guinea pig we have been babysitting for almost a month while his family flit here and there all over the world. We would keep him, but his mom probably misses him!
Pattern: Ondawa, by Michele Wang, from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2014.
Yarn: The yarn is a dk/light worsted merino/silk/cashmere blend from Lambspun of Colorado. I had been hoarding it for many years, perhaps close to ten years.
Modifications: I knitted it top down, in the round, with decreased number of stitches to compensate for heavier yarn. I knew I was going to make the neck opening smaller, but if I did that, then the front was going to ride pretty high up. So, I shaped the front a bit to give it a shallow scoop. I also curved the back just a bit and made it tad longer because I knew it was going to ride up; in hindsight I should have made the back even longer, because it still looks a bit short to me.
Thoughts: Back in the 1980s, I made a few wide-and-cropped sweaters (hey, it was the era), and they did not ever look good on me. 30+ years later, here I am, with a wide-and-cropped cabled sweater. Well, I still don’t think it’s a great shape for me, because even though I am now 20 pounds lighter, I am still remarkably short. However, the slim-fitting sleeves and the designer’s usual close attention to details makes this sweater modern, stylish, and infinitely wearable.
One of my favorite trail walks meanders past a small prairie dog colony, and facing the colony is a memorial bench in honor of “Molly.” Molly was a dog, and I am sure she loved to watch “her” prairie dogs. A few months ago, I saw something I had not seen before, and which I later learned was the characteristic prairie dog “jump yip.” This was early summer, and I suspect one of the jumpers was pretty young: it jumped, yipped, and promptly fell over. And because it was so much fun (?) it would do it again . . .
Around the same time, on one of my other favorite walks, I met Nick LoFaro, a metal artist who was putting the finishing touches to an enormous sculpture called “Poseidon”:
A few months later, I commissioned my own (much smaller) sculpture from Nick. I wanted the jump yip, but Nick could not build in the jump and still have it look like a prairie dog . . . so he made him into the sentinel. But I still call him “Yipper”:
Why yes, there are spoons and forks and gears and all sorts of reclaimed metal parts! I am especially fond of the drill bit for the tail, and the blue marbles for his eyes. These days, he either hangs out as a guardian/sentinel on our tiny front balcony overlooking the commons area, or in our equally tiny backyard overlooking the next subdivision. And just think: we are art collectors!
My brother called and told me Dad was no longer getting out of bed. He didn’t want to eat. He was incontinent. He could not walk anymore even with his walker. He could not get up from the toilet without help. Dad could not.
Dad had been dying for almost five year, ever since Mom passed away in 2014. And now, he was at the end. My brother refused to recognize it. I flew out, put on my doctor coat, and made the same decisions for Dad that I had made for Mom, decisions that my brother could not make then or now. Dad became an in-hospital hospice patient, and I stayed in the room with him that night. A little after midnight I came awake suddenly, and I knew Dad was gone.
I am convinced Dad was listening to Mom; I am convinced Mom finally forgave Dad. And I am convinced they are together again.
A few months ago, in a rather singular moment of craziness, DH and I thought about buying a historic house listed at $$$ . . . I went into historian mode and dug around in the archives for information about the house and its occupants, and found out that what the seller had proudly presented as part of the unique history of the house was wrong. There it was, printed in a very glossy full color brochure, and it was just wrong. And I was reminded again how easy it was to rewrite history.
When I research a house, I try to establish a chain of ownership. Most of the time, all that remains is a listing in the City Directory: a name, perhaps an occupation, perhaps the number of people in the household. Sometimes, if I get really lucky, someone will get a mention in the newspaper: “Miss Lucy Smith celebrated her birthday with a garden party attended by . . . ”
In the case of this historic house, the seller stated that the house was built and owned by a member of a prominent farming family. A member of the prominent family did indeed live there … after he married the daughter of the house. Her parents had built the house a few years after their arrival in the town, and after their deaths, the daughter inherited the house. She retained ownership of the house, and passed the house on to her daughter.
None of this stuff is particularly important, unless you believe that facts are important. Even in this era of postmodern history, perpetuating a falsehood is perpetuating a falsehood. DH and I came to our senses and did not buy the house, and I did not find any more information on the daughter or her daughter . . . but then, women tended not to exist in their own names.
Which brings me to Miss Mary. Her little travel diary had been my pet project a couple of years ago, and I was always sorry that I did not know what she looked like. She was daughter of, wife of, mother of . . . Then a descendant posted her picture on Findagrave.com (love that website!):
Mary Campbell Andrews Matzinger
Finally, Miss Mary!
Pattern: “Dogs in Sweaters” quilt and pillow pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.
Fabrics: Scraps! In retrospect, I should have matched the white(ish) background, but I set out to use scraps, and those were the scraps I had. The darker muslin is from a freebie fabric bag that came with a pack of yarn I bought 20 years ago. The backing is from a Norwegian duvet cover donated by my dear friend. The cotton seersucker cover had been her mother’s favorite and was no longer usable because of some rips in the 50-year-old fabric.
Made for: My non-biological sister in Texas who has metastatic pancreatic cancer. She is fighting the good fight. She LOVES dachshunds, and I know she will be amused by this pillow cover!
Modifications: The original pillow case pattern finished in a size for which there were no readily available pillow forms. So, I eyeballed it and ended up with a cover that takes a standard sized pillow. I also did not do the three-layer quilted backing, opting for a double layer of the seersucker.
Thoughts: I am rubbish at quilting, mainly because I am a piecer, not a quilter . . . I think the wavy line quilting turned out OK though. The dachshund required many little pieces of fabric; not frustrating, but needed patience. So worth the effort for the “cuteness” factor!
In the summer, my day starts around 5 AM, when I open every window and door in the house. We are the only house in our neighborhood without air conditioning, so my goal is to get the indoor temperature below 70°F. And then we close everything around 9 AM, and hope that at the peak, the temperature inside doesn’t go above 82° (or so). In our previous house, we would turn on the central air at 82°, mainly because the poor little guinea pigs looked pretty wilted at that point …
We made the decision not to have air conditioning when we built this house because we could not justify the environmental impact; call it our “greater good” conscience. Along with early rising is also early gardening: as I yank weeds at 6:30 in the morning, I have been thinking about Karl Marx: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” My inner snarkiness has resulted in various areas of The Commons now having names: Cindy’s Folly (a $2000 dream of abundant wildflowers in glorious display is actually 200 feet of exposed black weed barrier with holes for anemic annuals and weeds) . . . L&B’s Stupid Strip ((they wanted real grass in the verge next to their house, except the HOA owns only HALF of the strip, so there is now 3 feet of weedy grass — and they think “The HOA” should take care of the weeds because hey the verge isn’t actually their private property) . . . Joe’s NIMBY (he wanted the frontage but dang it’s a really long frontage and he shouldn’t have to be responsible for shoveling the walkway in the winter let alone picking weeds in the summer) . . . Adrienne’s Private Dog Park (I mean, where else do you expect Otto the dog to do his business and if no one really uses that walkway then what’s wrong with doing the cleanup just once a week?) . . .
The Greater Good. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. My little corner of the world really can do better, and I am doing a terrible job of containing my frustration and annoyance. Worst of all, I have turned into a bigger whinger than I had thought possible.
On really bad days, I visit our local prairie dog colony, where I recently saw the “jump yip” for the first time. I thought they were just happy to hurry me out of the neighborhood, but the scientists do not have a consensus on the meaning of the jump yip: warning? celebratory dance? seeing if other prairie dogs are being vigilant? just because? What we do know is that prairie dogs live in a cooperative community … And I do not.
So … on really bad days, I whinge, and yank weeds, and then I remember to smile smile smile, because someone once said that if you smile enough, the smile may become real. And perhaps I will believe again in the Greater Good.