Form is First Worthy of Imperial Sway

I started a new summer hat based on the Lace-Edged Women’s Hat.    I am working it from the top down.   It gives me a break from the cornsilk pullover.  I also started some new socks, because I don’t have very many pairs of summer socks, and the weather is hot this week.    I am using my basic pattern for toe-up socks, but holding together two light-weight yarns.   One is a fingering weight cotton yarn I got at BambooMN, and one is a baby yarn (either fingering or sport weight).

This is an experiment.  From making a lot of winter socks, I’ve found squishy soft yarns don’t work well for socks UNLESS you hold them together with a stiffer yarn.   Usually I combine a soft yarn with some kind of stiffer acrylic (like Red Heart with Love).   But for summer I thought I’d try cotton for the stiffer component.   If that works I’ll make a whole bunch of them.

Also from trial and error, I’ve found I prefer ankle socks even for winter wear.  They seem to stay on better with ribbing around the ankle.    But for summer socks, definitely, the shorter the better.

I am getting tired of trying to find titles for these knitting note entries, so I’m just going to randomly look for quotes related to something goimg on.  This one is from the Porphyry readings we are doing.   He is actually quoting someone else.    The phrase is somewhat mysterious, but it starts off the discussion on species.   Species is a way of sub-dividing genus, but species has to remain above the individual level; in other words, it’s sort of futile to categorize each individual (each man, each squirrel etc) as its own species, because firstly it would get to an impossibly complex level (determining what differentiates my species with my son’s), and secondly I think because it kind of defeats our reasons for speciation in the first place — specification is a kind of middle ground between the broadest genus (substance) and the number of individuals of all types out there.

By the way, every time one goes to Ravelry, one embarks on a specification tree — I usually first go to Knitting, then to Free, then from there to whatever else I’m trying to look up.

Memorial Day Memo

I decided to frog the Easter pullover, and have started a new sweater more suitable for summer weather.   Also, after several false starts I started another summer hat, which is a combo of two hat patterns.   That one’s almost done.

I’m also working on a scarf type thing with light fingering weight yarn, but I’m not sure yet what direction it is going to take.    I was trying to combine two patterns, but it was too much for my brain.  I decided to simplify and I’m just seeing how it goes.  I like lightweight, lacy knitted scarfs for non-winter weather and want to experiment with those while using some of the single skeins I have around.  We will see how it goes.

It’s morning, and PG who rose early today (at the same time as me, who rose late) is reading to me about RWBY.    AM is planning a couple of journeys he is taking with his Dad.  He turns 17 this week, hard to believe.     Tomorrow PG and I have to zip to town to do his final tests for the school year.    Yesterday, we did our second video seminar about Porphyry’s Isagoge.    We discussed the second part of chapter 2, on species.

Summer Hats and Pooling

I have been hiking with my husband almost daily, so hats to protect myself from our mile-high sun have been on my mind.  Here are the hats so far:

Forest Hat

Summer Weekend Hat







I have a lot of that dishcloth type cotton in my stash.  I’m probably going to make several more hats during this season, since I already have quite a lot of dishcloths.  This type of cotton also seems OK for cardigans — I have one in progress now.

I love colors, so I tend to buy the variegated type yarns, but one problem with those is the tendency to pool.       Here’s an example of one of my earlier projects which pooled in a way that bothered me enough so that in the long run I frogged the garment.     I guess there is something called planned pooling which can get very mathematical,  but for now I’m just making a short list of ways I’ve found to deal with the problem:     All of these involve using more than one yarn in a project.

(1) Holding yarns double (either two variegated yarns or one multi and one coordinating solid).   I’ve done this several times.   It is a great boredom buster too.  I get bored making round after round of solid colored stockinette, but color combos make my eyes happy.   A variant of this is to alternate one round or row of one yarn with one in another.    You can vary the thickness and quality of the yarns, carry one over while introducing a new one, etc.  I have done this a lot with scrap yarns, usually to make a skirt, since skirts are easy in form.     Here are some socks I made this way.     Here’s a skirt.

(2) Slip stitch — this one can either alternate a multi and a solid, or potentially could just involve one multi, since slip stitch breaks up the uniformity of the colors.   Slip stitch also is a good way to integrate multiple solid colors without simple striping or the complications of Fair Isle.  In fact, I love slip stitch.  I just started trying it about a month ago and I am a big fan now.   The cardi and pullover I am toiling through now both involve slip stitch.

(3) Lace.   As shown in the bucket hat above.    The pooling looked subtle and pretty rather than random and splotchy.   This also involved varying two different types of yarn.

(4) Any kind of varied stitch, especially one involving alternating yarns.    One I’ve used a couple of times is a version of a lanesplitter.    The multi yarn pools but when it’s de-emphasized by the solid color ridges it looks better.

(5) Fair Isle.   Using a solid color and making the variegated yarn serve for the patterns makes a beautiful effect that looks way more complicated than it is.

It’s endlessly fascinating to me how colors can work together.    With knitting, I love being able to design my own fabric as well as my own garments.   Plus, knitting itself is peaceful.   Sewing goes faster but the machine is noisy and hectic, and you can’t originate your own fabrics.  Crocheting — I don’t seem to be able to do it.   And there is no satisfying tempo of clicks.   I hope to get where I can crochet a little but I presently am stuck with chains.

Well, I guess if I keep talking about knitting on this blog, I will have no problem posting.




Thoughts about the Easter Pullover

I have been getting discouraged with the pullover I mentioned in the last post.   It’s got some mistakes in it and the sleeves are taking a long time.    I am sort of an intuitive knitter.  If I don’t feel good about how it’s going, it’s often better to just scrap the project.  The exception is if it’s a tiny, time-limited project which I can put down to a learning experience.  I did learn a lot with this pullover, but some of the learning is incorporated in the form of errors.   If I am not happy with a project, then I probably won’t wear the result, so it’s better to be kind of ruthless even if I’ve invested a lot of time.

This hopefully carries over into somewhat of a life lesson.    My husband and I read a book, can’t remember the name right now, about how people can get locked into something where they have already invested a lot of time/money/value.   There is no real point in continuing to soak value into something that isn’t paying off, but it’s hard to quit sometimes.   I suppose the lock-in simulates an actual virtue: perseverance or fortitude.    But it’s not the same.    I find that my intuition can be a guide.   Sometimes it makes more sense to continue, sometimes not.   I still haven’t decided with this one.   One thing I know is that it is risky for me to work on two major projects at the same time.  It dilutes my momentum and makes me careless.   I wish that in real life I could only work at one major project at a time, but unfortunately real life is about multi-tasking.   Still, all the more reason to keep the knitting part on focus.

One thing I did learn recently in working this project was to make a really nice 4-color slip stitch pattern.  I invented it in the sense that I discovered it on my own, but I am sure someone else has done it somewhere.  I’ll write it down here so I can use it again:

  1. Cornsilk:   K across.
  2. Tan:   K1, SL 1 across.
  3. Aubergine:  K the cornsilk, SL the tan.  (iow SL1, K1).
  4. Lilac:   K the aubergine, SL the tan.  (iow K1, sl1).
  5. repeat 1-4.

What this does is emphasize the cornsilk, carry over the tan for two rounds, and de-emphasize the aubergine, which is so much darker than the other colors that it can easily overwhelm it.   You can do this obviously with any four colors.    It makes a faint imitation rib too, and doesn’t seem as stiff as some linen stitch type patterns.

I will try to upload a picture of how it looks later on.   (Here’s the picture)

I started working on another sun hat.    The pattern is Shazza’s Bucket Hat.    I am using two colorways alternated, and starting from the top rather than brim to top.  I’ll add it to my project page when I have enough to take pictures.

May Mile-Posts

I have recently been working on two sweaters, a cardigan and a pullover, that have been taking a long time.    So recently I broke up the tedium by knitting a summer hat.    It isn’t my Platonic Form of a summer hat, but I like several things about it.  I plan to make another one soon, to work out some of the problems of the first one, but first I am trying to force myself to finish the sweaters-in-progress.   They both make use of a slip stitch to vary the color, something I have been very interested in recently,  but they are both taking longer than usual, and I traditionally have trouble working on more than a single project at a time.    Not sure why, something about my need to hyper-focus in order to keep momentum going.

Today we had our last teacher meeting of this school year for PG, who is finishing 7th grade.   His teacher is great and the meetings are fine, but it was still a cause for celebration that we are done until August.  Yesterday was PG’s last piano lesson until fall, and a couple of days ago was his piano recital.    A week ago, we travelled south to PA and C’s alma mater to watch the graduation of the class that were freshmen when C graduated.   All these milestones all in May.

I have lots of plans for summer, but I know how that goes.   Nothing will happen unless I make time for it.  So  I am trying to make my day-timer (a nice book our stock-broker sends us every year) a bigger part of my day and more useful for my kind of life.  I don’t have that many appointments.   What I think I need to do is block out time for what I want to do, just as I would for things I am actually scheduled to do.   Or, I could just knit the days away.   Yep.

I updated my projects page on Ravelry.    I don’t have all my past knitting on there, but it’s a lot closer.

And Microsoft updated me.  Or as close as they could get, installing WIndows 10 without my consent.  Grr.



A Small Rainfall

It’s supposed to rain today…. I slept in till almost 9 am, knowing that I wasn’t going to get a chance to nap this afternoon.

Last week was Easter week, and my oldest was here to celebrate the octave with us; this week has been an in-between week:  a bit of spring-cleaning, quite a lot of knitting, some play-time and chore-time with the baby, not enough piano practice, not enough time on task with homeschooling.   AM had an infected toe, and I have been letting PG, who is almost finished with his 7th grade school books, do a default schedule which is mostly online practice and review.

I would like to have jumped into this week with a clipboard and a bunch of lists, but it did not happen.    Maybe next week….

A few things I want to do more of:

  • Reading seriously (not free Kindle mysteries)
  • Learning more about knitting, designing some of my own things
  • Healthy eating
  • Journaling (or blogging)
  • Keeping up with my friends and family
  • Praying
  • Practicing piano, getting better at singing (for the sake of the music thing at the church).
  • Spring-cleaning and house improvement lists

I didn’t put exercise because I am actually doing pretty well with that.   I cycle on the stationary bike almost every single day for an hour.   It’s one of the things I feel good about, because usually exercise goes away all winter, and this winter I actually kept it going 85% of the time.

I gave up alcohol for Lent, and I didn’t really even miss it, which means I probably need to do something harder next year.




Music and Glitches

I took piano lessons for a couple of years when I was a teenager, but it was never my first instrument.   My classical guitar was my primary.    Several years ago, I realized that the dear lady who played the organ at our tiny mission church was pretty much the only Catholic musician on our mountain.   I started taking piano lessons with the goal of getting good enough to substitute for her.  I figured there were times she could use a break.

As it happened, our organist/ cantor moved to another part of the state, and for a while, we were struggling week by week to find musical solutions.  I mentioned to J, who became the main music leader for both the little Catholic churches on our mountain, that I could play a bit.   That was how I got where I am now about 5 months later, playing both churches about twice a month.  The other potential player started going to college, and others have to drive 50 plus miles to get here, not really that practical a solution.

So OK.  … the first couple of tries were really rough.    I knew they would be.   I was way outside my comfort zone.    Beyond actually being able to play, and knowing the basic logistics of where to find the microphones and how to set them up, there are a whole host of other tiny things that are about timing and persona and can’t really be taught.   They have to be picked up on the journey.    J taught me the logistics very carefully, which was huge because I never was lost on that front.   She told me “some days just don’t go well, no matter how long you’ve been doing this or how much you prepare”  and I basically tattooed that on my music-leader persona, which got me through the first hundred or so glitches that come from nerves and just inexperience.   But it was rough.   I even woke up sometimes at night hearing myself say to myself “Why did you think you could do this again?”  and “there’s no fool like a middle-aged fool”.   I knew those were just glitches too, but it still was hard to actually live through.

Around the beginning of Lent, I finally had what I would call a “good” mass in the sense that I met my reasonable expectations and things went smoothly for the most part.  (All the masses were good in the sense that they were masses, I was doing my part, the congregation was kind, etc).    After that, I could more or less expect the normal music lot, where there are ups and downs, but there was a basic degree of competence and I was past the initial state of controlled panic.

Now I am dealing with things like getting better at singing with a mic, singing while playing, improving my accompaniments,  developing my hospitable persona so the congregation doesn’t start twitching while I’m making announcements, and so on.

The thing that I didn’t really expect when I started planning to sub for M, 3 or 4 years ago, is how the musician is one of the visible faces of the church.   When I was raising my kids, I stayed very much in the background at church.   I didn’t like it, because it wasn’t how I was raised, but I felt strange in the church body.

Now I am part of the visible body, and am realizing the ministry part of the thing more than I would have predicted.    I think of Paul’s passage about the members of the body of Christ.    In the church, a bunch of people with different degrees of talents find ways to work together smoothly.  There are rough spots that are because of gaps in their skill sets, but those are in themselves only artifacts.  The part that involves human choice is how to deal with the gaps and rough parts.   There’s the demonic way and then the way Paul describes it in his passage on love or rather, caritas.  Besides being just, you know, good to do things in this Pauline way, it’s also a practical road map for how to function in communities.  It’s kind of the circulatory system of the Body.  A lot of businesses and the like, in the secular world, try to figure out approximations and strategies to imitate this real thing… or ways to fake it to fool people and take advantage of them.  Anything that can be considered a body beyond sheer unit individualism has to approach this circulatory thing in some way.    I haven’t had much experience functioning in communities beyond family etc and I am learning a lot by trial and error how to smooth the paths, hold up my end, etc.

Yesterday, Palm Sunday vigil services, the first one went really smoothly all in all, and the second one was glitchy, on my end and others’ — just a really rough production.  The nice thing about mass, though, is that though smoothness adds dignity and grace, nothing non-essential can really detract from the heart of it.   And though the roughness reminded me of some of those early days when I was first starting, I had some skillz that I didn’t have then, and have lost the anxiety part of it, so it’s different.

Still, that doesn’t mean I am not thinking about what went wrong in the parts I am connected to, and what I can do to avoid the glitches next time.    In the original Palm Sunday to Good Friday sequence of events, which we dramatize in mass with a 3-voice reading, you could describe the events as extremely glitchy.   The stupid crowd, going from rejoicing and praising to shouting for death.   Peter’s massive screw-up and betrayal, not to mention the embarrassing fiasco of the servant’s severed ear.   The notion of the traitor’s kiss — whose idea was that?    The whole bureaucratic weirdness of Jesus being passed from the Jewish religious leaders to Rome’s jurisdiction to Herod.    The casting of lots for the seamless garment.   Judas throwing the traitor’s silver back at the council and then them deciding solemnly how to use it.   If you made a list of all the human, grotesque particulars of the whole thing, it would be like a grim satire, but meanwhile this event of immense significance and continuity was going on unwrenched and undistorted at the same time.

I was so tired when we got home that I fell asleep while watching The Arrow with the family, then while eating dessert, then while reading my kindle.   Now it’s pretty late Sunday morning and I hear everyone else up and the baby calling for “Mum!” (the word we use for me, grandma, because the way she says grandma sounds like how she says mama, and she’s heard me called “MOM!” by the boys, so she was labeling me that anyway).   I also can smell bacon.