Friday, September 18, 2015

Loose ends

I've been in a finishing mood lately, though I would have thought I'd had enough of endings.  There's something to be said for closure, at any rate.

I finished the twined mittens I started back in February.  I need to take a better picture so I can upload it to the pattern page.  The technique was a lot of fun once I got the hang of it.

I made myself a hat:

It's the Star-Crossed Slouchy Beret that's so popular on Ravelry (13000+ projects - so viral I would have avoided it except I saw one in person and fell hard in love).  I had to make some mods to get it to fit my head, mostly just adding stitches and then adjusting for the increases and decreases so the cables still worked.  I love the colors in this yarn (Knit Picks Chroma in Hollyhock).  Purple and grey may be my new grey and pink.

I've also caught up on a few dishcloths.

Zig Zag dishcloth by Faith Schmidt

Simple Lines by Chelsea Berkompas

Orbital Dishcloth by Stacey Winklepleck

And my showstopper:

Petticoat Dishcloth, by Kendra Nitta

This dishcloth is just a little crazy.  You start at the outside edge and cast on 200+ stitches, knit a bit, and then on a separate needle cast on another ridiculous number of stitches and knit a bit and then join the two pieces together, cast on a third piece, knit, join, and finally knit down to the center.  Were I designing this I would have started from the center, worked out, and then picked up the stiches for the second and third ruffles so everything was worked in one piece, but perhaps that isn't as simple or neat as it sounds in my head.

The yarn is Cotlin DK.  I started this thing in April, all that ruffling in light yarn took this long to finally finish.  As long as it took, and as frustrating as it was to try and join so many stitches on a 16" cable without twisting, it was really a lot of fun to knit.  I can't even imagine using it as a dishcloth.  Right now it's sitting on my bathroom counter collecting bobby pins and hair-ties, kind of a fiber-happy take on the those catch-all bathroom trays that I've noticed we're selling in the Domestics dept. recently.

In other news, it's officially footie pajama weather.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yarn Along

I haven't been reading much for myself lately; when I reach for my Kindle it's usually to play Candy Crush. My attention span when grieving is basically nonexistent. I still read to Silas, though.

Silas will have outgrown the last sweater I made him by this Christmas, so I've started a Sherwood for him. In fact, I've started it about six times now. The irregular rib and the odd charts threw me for several loops, and then I managed to twist the cast-on when I joined. Oy vey. The yarn (Plymouth Yarns Encore) is a wool/acrylic blend similar to Wool-Ease. The book is Harry the Dirty Dog. I wasn't familiar with it before Silas got it for Christmas, but my sister-in-law implied it was a favorite in my husband's family.

This post is linked up with Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Warm hands . . .

When my mom called on Thursday to tell me that Dad had been moved to a smaller room on a more hospice-like floor of the Veteran's Home building, so that he could receive more frequent oxygen treatments, I felt the old familiar chill of worry creep into my chest, that terrible feeling of helplessness and foreboding.  When she said that his hands were cold, I thought, "This at least I can fix."

I spent the next couple hours exploring my yarn bins and Ravelry, trying to find the right combination of soft, warm yarn and quick pattern so that I could have a completed set of fingerless gloves when I visited him on Saturday.  I decided that I was going to knit him lots of fingerless gloves, nice ones, historical patterns that he'd appreciate not only for warmth but for their origins as World War II artifacts, but for now I'd stick with a fast, easy pattern in bulky yarn.  I had a tiny amount of blue yarn with alpaca that would be perfect trim; alpaca for extra warmth, blue for my dad's favorite color.

I worked on them for the rest of the night, eschewing laundry, dishes, cleaning, and forgetting to eat.  When I told my slightly exasperated husband why, he immediately understood.  Here was the one small thing I could do for my dad - keep his hands warm.

I went to bed late that night, and late the next, trying to finish them.  I had to rip out the end ribbing on both gloves and knit fewer rows, because I ran out of the blue yarn right before the cast off.  I finished the gloves but for the ribbing minutes before we were out the door for the long drive to Marshalltown.

I wove in a couple ends while we ate lunch with my brother, but there were still several left when we paid our tabs and headed for the Veteran's Home.  I was confident I could finish them up during the course of the visit, and Dad would be able to wear them before we left.

Nothing went as planned.

Afterwards, they told us that it must have been very quick.  He couldn't have suffered - he was almost certainly gone before he hit the ground.  His heart just gave out, unexpectedly, suddenly, and sometimes these things just happen.

It's cold, cold comfort to the children who found their dad lying on his bathroom floor, to the son who tried vainly to give CPR, to the daughter who ran screaming for the nurses whose station was only a few feet away from his room, then held tight to his icy hand and prayed for him to wake up.  Those prayers didn't seem to leave the room.

The chill that settled into my chest when the nurses asked us to step away was familiar, though not the same one from before.  This was a chill I had felt while lying in a dark radiology lab, watching the silent screen of the ultrasound and its flat white line.

I felt my heart turn to stone again.  My brother fell apart and I envied him the release of tears and oblivion, but I clung to the cold, hard feeling in my chest like a pillar, and it kept me standing.  I followed directions, I called my mom and told her what was going on with remarkable coherency, I calmly thanked the nurses when they brought us water and tissues.  I took care of my brothers, I made Phillip call his fiancee.

When the nurse told me, "I'm sorry, he's gone." I said, "Okay, okay," and thanked them again.  I told Phillip, I called Mom, and I was infuriatingly unable to allow myself to cry.  If I could have had a moment to myself, the tears would have come without effort, but instead I comforted my brothers, I made phone calls, and I wove in ends, and had to stop myself from laughing, because it was such a futile task, but I couldn't leave them unfinished now, and I had to have something to do with my hands.

They're finished, and I suppose nothing I could have done would have allowed them to be finished in time to actually warm my dad's hands, but I tucked them beside him when we said our last goodbyes, before they closed the lid and draped the flag over him.

My dad was buried with full military honors, because he was a veteran who loved his country, and he was buried with a pair of grey and blue fingerless gloves, because he had a daughter who was a knitter and loved her dad, and wanted him to be warm.