Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gansey WIP and more....

Whoops! I did it again! I dropped off the radar after promising I would do better in keeping up with the blog postings. Life got a little too hectic as usual. I guess we all need to take comfort in the fact that I do come back ~ eventually.

So, what's new with me? Well, a lot of things:

~ I finally finished my TKGA Level III submission and shipped it off to the comittee for review. Let's all take a deep sigh of relief. It has been over a month and I've not heard back from them, and I am not too worried about that. I've already been warned it will take the committee a couple months or so to go over my materials. here's hoping that I pass and will be certified as a Master Knitter.

~I've acquired a second home with access to a lake. That is where I am keeping my Butterfly sailboat for sailing whenever the wind is good. The house itself needs work - there is old carpet to rip out and over 1400 square feet of laminate flooring (Venetian Walnut) to put down. I'll be busy for awhile since I am doing the labor myself. Anybody out there want to help a guy out?

~ I am still working two jobs. I need it since I have two houses to support along with putting money aside for a new sailboat in the Spring. I'll be keeping the Butterfly where it is, but will join the yacht club in Grand Rapids along with buying a Laser sailboat to race with. An expensive plan, but it should be cheaper after the first year (no new boat and club stock to purchase).

~ I am still knitting in spite of my crazy life. Usually it would just be an hour of knitting before bed each night. It is a good way to unwind and drop all the cares from the day.

Right now I am knitting myself a Gansey. The color is a dark teal, and it has my initials ("RO") on the front, along with the Butterfly logo and my sailboat's number (613) on the back. The knit-purl patterns along with the initials I got from a book. the logo and number is a design of my own creation.

The construction of the Gansey will be folksy and primitive. I knitted it in the round to under the arms, and am now knitting back-and-forth the front and back separately. The plan is to knit shoulder straps, pick up stitches around the armholes, and finish off the sleeves in the round. So far, it is looking pretty good.
~ I signed up for a writing course with Long Ridge Writer's Group. People have commented that i am a good writer, but I guess I am not satisfied with that. I would like to learn how to write consistently, and in developing my skills in working with words. There is so much I would like to write and yet become overwhelmed by the thought of expressing myself through language. I had figured I need the help of a mentor to develop a structured practice.
I am a bit late with my second writing assignment. I am hoping to get it typed up tonight, edited, printed out and sent on its way. I am embarrassed to admit the reason for not keeping up was lack of focus. I had a garden to work on, vegetables to put away for Winter, work, classes to teach at the community college and three houses to take care of (my parents are in Spain, so it is their house along with my two). What I really need is an assistant to help me out! Or simplify my life (Ha!). Are there any ideas or volunteers?
This is all for now. Winter is coming, so keep on knitting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fire & Ice

I finally finished the sweater I designed for my TKGA submission! The one thing I'll tell ya' about knitting an Aran sweater from the neck down: the sweater just seem to grow organically from the needle with each pattern working itself out just perfectly.
My mum will be getting the sweater after the committee reviews it. In my written pattern for it, I named it "Fire and Ice" and the following is the description as I've written:
I designed this sweater for my mother, who usually wears cool colors (especially blues) to temper her complexion (she is a red-head). The name of the sweater came from the idea that you can mix fire (my mom along with the 'burning love' pattern on the sleeves) with ice (the color of the yarn used).
The traditionally masculine style of this sweater has been tweaked to give it a feminine look, and the Aran patterns were chosen and designed to reflect my mother's story. The central lattice pattern shows the importance of community, and mom's willingness to separate her large property into plots for her neighbors and friends to plant gardens and to grow food (organically, of course). The three cables on each side of the lattice, along with the plait, represent her three sons. The diamond pattern represents the things she values: moss for earth, bobbles for life, and basket-weave for honest intentions. The honeycomb pattern is for hard work and its sweet rewards. And 'burning love' to represent mom's passionate nature.

Yesterday I went to the farmer's market to pick up some 'staples'. Farmer Michael of Trillium Haven Farm pulled out this cart of curly green masses and my heart just literally jumped up to my throat! Could it be? No, it can't be! Is it? GASP!

IT IS GARLIC SCAPES!!!!!!!! It took all the self control I had not to jump into Farmer Michael's arms to plant him a big, wet and sloppy one (that, and his wife wouldn't approve). I haven't had garlic scapes in two years, and this was a real treat for me

In case you don't know what garlic scapes are, they are the flowering tops of hard-neck garlic. In order to encourage bulb development, you just lop off these tops around May and June. In most places the tops would be thrown into the compost, but it is a delicacy in the Pacific Northwest (trust me, I've seen housewives tussle for these things at the grocery stores in Seattle).

So, I rushed my scapes home and decided that I would put them in an omellette with some mushrooms and cheese. Nothing too complicated to drown out the scapes' flavor. But first I would need to gently cook those scapes down a bit in oil and better (and save the scape flavored oil for cooking the omellette). As I was chopping these spiral-shaped vegetables, they would flip up and brush a nipple ~ gee, who would have thought a veggie could be so sensuous before you eat it!

And the omellette was spectacular! The muchrooms, the blue cheese, and the scape which tasted a bit like asparagus with mild garlic undertones. So if you haven't tried Garlic Scapes, do give it go. It just may become your favorite Spring treat along with the asparagus and ruebarb.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Finally got hooked up.
Being able to hear is a very strange experience. I am hearing a lot, and some of the things I am hearing I have a hard time recognizing what it is. Ahhhh, it takes practice. But, I do know that I absolutely hate the sound of crinkling plastic bags ~ the next check-out clerk that cracks out the plastic bags for my groceries will get a pen stabbed into her jugular.

I've started the sweater for my TKGA MastKnitter certification. Actually, I started it twice. The first time I got to the mid-rif and realized I hated the look of the increase technique suggested by Barbara Walker. Even the cast-on was blah. So I ripped the whole thing out (it was good therapy), and started over using different cast-on and increasing methods. So far I like the results the second time around, so I'll keep at it.

And excuse me for not posting pictures of the sweater in progress. I am designing an Aran sweater for me mum, and the patterns that have been chosen and created tells a bit of her story. I will post pictures of it after the sweater is complete, and the pattern submitted to TKGA (copyright protection).

Until the next post.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Had my stitches removed this morning and it ain't pretty. There is still some swelling from the surgery.
Most of the pain has abated, but the dizziness has not lessened since the surgery. If I am still dizzy by Monday, I may have to go to physical therapy to help retrain my eyes and ears to work together in maintaining my balance. In the meantime, I am just taking it easy and not putting myself in situations where I could fall or be in an accident (meaning just stay home and no driving or operating heavy machinery).

No, I haven't been sitting around eating bon-bons and watching the soaps. The antibiotics I am on makes everything taste sooo off, so my appetite hasn't been all that great. And, I detest soaps (how banal can they get?!?). I did manage to knit a pair of socks for a friend, even though it was quite an adventure to get the needles through the correct loops when the room is spinning. I finished my report on Aran and Fair Isle Knitting Traditions, and am now doing research for my fiber report. I even wrote and drew down some ideas for my hat and sweater submissions to TKGA. Yea, I am one of those people who can't sit around and do nothing, and being engaged takes my mind off the discomfort on the right side of my head.
This is it for now. Will keep you posted.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Morning after Surgery

I just had my CI surgery yesterday afternoon, in which they attached an electrode array to my auditory nerve on the right side of my head, along with inserting an internal processor under the skin. I am in a lot of pain right now, and popping pain-pills like candy. The doctor says surgery went very smoothly. Me, I just feel like I earned a KBM (kicked by mule) medal.
Despite my frightful looks, like I came out of a war zone, this surgery is very routine and commonly done on small children with profound deafness. That may be so, but to be honest I wouldn't allow my children (if I had any) to get implanted considering the pain involved. And if they insisted, I would just say, "Wait until you are 18 when you can make that descision and deal with the consequences as an adult". Hopefully when they activate the implant a month from now, I will forget all this in the excitement.

Oh yea, the night before my surgery I did have a nightmare. I dreamt that Kevin O'Conner, along with the rest of "This Old House" crew were in the OR doing the surgery. I almost woke up screaming when Tom Silva was just about to have a go on my head with a power drill. Never went back to sleep after that, I just spend the rest of the morning calming my frazzled nerves with knitting. Now, don't get me wrong ~ I love "This Old House" and I think Kevin O'Conner is a dreamboat, but my absolute wet dream would be to have him and the rest of the gang building me a brand new kitchen with all the whistles and bells.

This is just to let you all know that I am still alive and kicking.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hair Chopped!

The surgery to be implanted with a cochlear device is about a week away. So I got down to brass tacks and paid a visit to my friend's salon to have my chair chopped. With the side of my head swollen and extremely tender for a month post-op, taking care of all that hair seems like a painful chore. I figered it would be easier to just chop it and start over. My friend, Raven, separated the hair into several strands and cut them off so that they may be donated to Locks of Love. I went from this............

to this!

It is a huge change. For a week afterwards, people didn't even recognize me. Even had comments that I look a decade younger without my hair. It took some getting used to.

With only a week to go before my surgery, I've been scrambling to get as much done as I can on my Level III TKGA Masterknitter assignments. All 18 swatches have been knitted, blocked and labled. I finished all the questions, the knitting patterns for my swatches and two book reviews. I still have two magazine reviews to write up, a fiber report, and a report on traditional knitting styles. Really, I'd like to get as much of the written stuff out of the way before I go under the knife. I will probably only be able to do one magazine review since I only subsribe to one knitting magazine (Cast On). Yesterday I had to subscribe to another knitting magazine, Wool Gathering, so that I have something to write about. Not sure when my first magazine of my new subsription will arrive, but most likely after my surgery. The traditional knitting paper is iffy since it will be long. I wrote up about 30 pages of notes during my research, so will have to do some weeding and organizing before writing. The fiber report I haven't even started on! I'll tell you this, if you don't like to write then you may want to do something other than getting your Masterknitter certification. I think I've already written materials enough for two books since starting on this almost a year ago. I do enjoy writing, don't get me wrong, but it is hard getting the writting in when I got so much going on. I just keep plugging whenever I have a bit of free time.

Once the writting is out of the way, then I have to design a hat and sweater, one in Fair Isle and the other Aran. I am planning on designing the hat in Fair Isle, since it is a smaller project and Fair Isle is not my strong knitting talent. I have a pretty good idea what I want to do with the Aran sweater, and that I will keep a secret until the garment is done. I really don't want to give anything away, but let's say that I will be tipping my hat to the past while adding my own signiture "Rowan" flair.
That's all in a nutshell. Think warm thoughts, and keep on knitting through all challenges.