Blessed, welcome rain! You can tell you’re a dyed-in-the wool Pacific Northwesterner when you’re actually glad to see the sun go away for awhile. Especially when the temps have been in the upper 80’s.

About a year ago I received a bonus at work and used it to purchase a swift and yarn winder. They have more than paid for themselves in time and frustration. Sunday afternoon it took me about half an hour to turn this:

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Into this:

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All of which should give you a hint at (drum roll please!) the coveted “Dorothy’s Next Project Award”, which goes to: St. Enda, by Alice Starmore. The link takes you to the inimitable Wendy’s interpretation. I believe she has made at least two of these. And lookie – I may not be as fast as Wendy, but I’ve completed two repeats of the pattern:

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I would like to thank the Academy and everyone who sent suggestions on what I should do. I got links to some wonderful projects, all of which shall be put in my “Future Projects” file. I also found that I was not alone in my angst. I did some minor soul searching over this whole thing (don’t want to make a huge deal of this – it’s not world peace, after all) to try and discover why this was such a big deal. I realized that there are times in my life when a project really does have to be a big deal. Quick socks, purses or scarves just won’t hack it. I need something to capture my attention and “speak” to me. My Shetland lace shawl that I designed myself did that, as did Rogue, Aranmor and Tilt. Perhaps they come at times in my life when either too much is going on, or not enough. Who knows – it probably doesn’t do to over analyze this whole thing.

Anyway, this project fills the bill on many levels. First of all, it’s from my favorite designer – Alice Starmore. I love most everything she’s designed and have made four so far (I really should get some more pictures in my FO album). I was fortunate enough several years ago to take a class with her and found her to be an wonderful teacher. I hear she doesn’t travel much anymore, so I may never get the opportunity again. Secondly, it’s complex enough to be interesting, but not so complex that I have to keep referring to the chart. I’ve got the pattern memorized already. Thirdly, it’s yarn from my stash! Now, I don’t have the extensive stashes some out there have – mostly odds and ends. But I had completely forgotten about the 10 balls of Cascade 220 that I bought when our LYS went out of business several years ago. This was a shop that mostly carried acrylics and novelty yarns, but down in a bin I found this unopened package. At the time I really didn’t know what a treasure I was buying – only that it was 100% wool. Since then, I have made several projects from the Cascade and it is hands down my favorite worsted weight wool.

Of course, when my Lily of the Valley stole pattern arrives from Fiddlesticks I will probably cast on for that right away. I have the attention span of a gnat! But for now I am blissfully knitting away on St. Enda (Who was he or she anyway? Gotta look that up.) and the blahs are postponed for another day.

On the school front I am working away at my Sociology of Aging class. This one has proven to suprisingly upbeat. The outlook for seniors is better than it has been in decades. Retirement has certainly seemed to be a positive thing for my husband! Our next assignment, however, is on Death and Dying and as part of that we have to write our own obituary. That should prove sobering!

I have knitter’s angst, ennui, the blahs, whatever you want to call it. I feel at a loss without something to work on, but nothing I have appeals to me. It’s too hot to work on the Norwegian sweaters (or at least I use that excuse). I have started and abandoned several projects as either too boring, too ugly or too complicated. I guess I want something that is sort of mindless, but not boring. That doesn’t necessarily rule out complicated lace or Aran patterns if they are logical and can be memorized. The Pacific Northwest Shawl didn’t fall in that category – I had to keep the chart nearby and mark off each row with a highlighter as I went along.

The problem is that if I have the yarn I don’t have the pattern, but if I have the pattern, I don’t have the yarn. I do have enough cream Cascade 220 to do a cardigan that I’ve really been wanting to do. But when I pulled out the pattern (a Celtic cardigan) I discovered to my dismay that it is not charted and I just refuse to do anything that’s not charted. I’m contemplating Janet Szabo’s Son of Aran cardigan. It’s knitted top down and seems quite intriguing. There is some thinking involved, as she doesn’t give exact numbers and you have to gauge, measure and then knit to your measurements. But once the actual knitting begins it’s a nice, rich Aran with predictable twists and turns in the cableing.

What I really want to do is Alice Starmore’s Fulmar, but even using Knit Picks less expensive yarn, it will cost about $100 and I just can’t justify that expense right now, not after a trip to England and a husband who’s now retired. You know the old joke – twice as much husband and half as much money. But enough whining! We have plenty of money to meet our bills and I have sweaters started I could work on and a small stash that I can choose from. I need to accept that I just can’t run out and buy whatever I want whenever I want anymore. I need to learn patience and saving up for what I want. I think one other blogger said it well, though – “Instant gratification isn’t fast enough”. Kind of funny isn’t it, coming from someone who often does projects that take years instead of months? But when I want to start something, I have no patience at all.

I wasn’t going to post a picture today, but remembered that I promised a picture of all of Izzy’s things that I made for her:

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That helps my mood a little bit, to realize that I’ve been pretty productive over the past year!

I think what I’ll do after church today is maybe tidy up my sewing room (what a mess – again!!), start winding my cream Cascade 220 and let it speak to me. Then I’ll peruse Alice Starmore’s Fisherman Knit book and see if something there also speaks to me and then will see if I can get gauge (always a challenge with Starmore patterns – man, does that woman knit TIGHT!). If that doesn’t work, I will seriously give the Son of Aran cardigan some consideration. No guage to “meet” on that one – you do a swatch with yarn and needles you like and then adapt the pattern to your gauge. That’s certainly intriguing. For anyone valiant enough to make it through this entire, whiney post, I will keep you informed!

So . . . would anyone like to hazard a guess on how long it takes to go from this:

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To this?

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Not as long as you might think – about half an hour. It never amazes me at how much less time it takes to frog something than to knit it in the first place. I decided last night that this wasn’t coming out as lovely as I hoped. Certainly not enough to justify the terminally boring knit. I’ve never been reluctant to cut my losses in knitting, so out it came. And I’ve ordered the pattern for this. I’ve heard good reports on the Fiddlesticks patterns, and this looks intriguing. Of course, it has bobbles – in this case “nupps” – so I may be kicking myself down the road, but isn’t it pretty?

However, until the pattern comes it leaves me wondering what to do. I may need to start a small lace scarf to preserve my sanity. It’s way too hot to knit on the two Norwegian sweaters. Yesterday Seattle set a record high of 87 degrees. It was probably cooler here, but not by much! That may not seem hot to those in other climates (especially with our lack of humidity), but we Pacific Northwesterners are real heat wimps! We can take any kind of wet the weather sends our way – clouds, drizzle, rain, sleet, hail, snow – but we melt in the heat. In our defense, although most businesses are air conditioned, few homes are. The saving grace is that it cools off in the evening. And no matter how hot, our bedroom seems to stay relatively cool.

Hester is glad she got rid of most of her winter coat before this heat wave. We were warned that Corgis shed, but I don’t think anything could have prepared us for this:

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We were getting as least twice that much every day! I’m surprised she’s not bald. I was a little alarmed when we came back from England – she looked so skinny – but realized it was mostly the lack of her heavy coat. At least she likes being brushed. When she sees us pick up the brush or shedding comb, she comes running over and plops down on the floor and closes her eyes in bliss. In fact, it’s funny to watch the two dogs try to push their way in front of each other to get brushed. Sure makes grooming easy! Well, it’s 5:45 a.m and I’ve been up for almost an hour. I still can’t manage to sleep any later in the morning. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems as if jet lag gets harder to adjust to as you get older. Just don’t call me at 7:00 p.m. tonight – I’ll probably be in bed!

I’m baaack! Seriously jet-lagged, but back. According to my body, it’s now 1:00 in the morning and I should be sleeping, but I’m trying to hold out for at least another three hours. Tomorrow it’s back to work.

We had a wonderful visit with our son and daughter-in-law in England and what can I say about Isobel? She is perfect!!! The only thing that could compare with holding my granddaughter for the first time was when I held her father for the first time. So without further ado – here are pictures!

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In the first picture she’s lying on the quilt that I made for her and wearing a little sweater set that I made for her father thirty years ago! In the second she’s reclining on her heart afghan and wearing the set I made especially for her. Is she not the most beautiful baby ever? For those who just cannot get enough, I’m going to try and post a photo album in the sidebar. That is if my foggy brain can wrap around the task. And, just to prove that I did indeed get in a little knitting, here’s a picture of me working on my lace shawl on the train.

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That sparkly expression of interest is a ruse. This is really proving to be a pretty boring pattern although I think it will be quite lovely. But it’s not the most interesting knit in the world.

Now I suppose I have to start addressing all those tasks that I kept saying I would do “after I get back from England.” I’m really itching to start a new project, but I know if I do some of the things I’ve been putting off (like starting the sleeves on Kongsberg) just won’t get done. But, as Scarlett says – “Tomorrow Is another day.” But for now think I’ll take a little nap (just a wee one you understand).

The last of the hand knit items for transport is done. The Baby Wallaby:

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I always advise beginning knitters NOT to point out the shortcomings in their projects. But just know that if anyone should ever come up to Izzy and ask her, “What a charming handknitted sweater. May I look at the underarm seam?”, Baby Isobel will be instructed to answer, “My Nana says, ‘NO!'” Just thought you ought to know. And yes, I do know that it will not fit her for quite a long time, but in case they are still in England then, I don’t want to have to pay to ship it.

I put all of Izzy’s hand made things on the bed and took a picture – will post when I get back because some of it is a surprise. But suffice it to say that with what I’m taking and what other people have given us to take, this kid needs her own suitcase on this trip! I either need to do a lot of souvenir buying over there or we’ll be coming back with one empty suitcase! If anyone knows of a good yarn shop within public transportation distance of St. Alban’s, let me know. I didn’t have much luck last time.

And here is an example of why I like living in the Pacific Northwest:

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Rhododendrons as big as a house! The shrub on the left is a rhody, but hasn’t bloomed yet. Strange, since they usually bloom together. Before I moved out here I thought rhododendrons were these shrimpy little shrubs. I have seen some here that are bigger than my house!

Must go and pack! Was it the Yarn Harlot who said that you know you’re a knitter when it takes longer to decide what knitting to pack than clothes? That’s me! Heaven forbid I should be stranded in an airport or on the plane without something to take my mind off the insanity of hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles an hour in a skinny metal tube. I WILL NOT think about it. Valium anyone?

Introducing Isobel Ling (aka Izzy):

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Is she not the most beautiful baby ever? And this from a totally unbiased source! I still don’t think either I or her grandpa have come down to earth yet. I think we’re going to like this grandparent business. And it’s brought out such interesting facets in my husband. He visited his mother in the group home to give her the news and she gave him some money to buy Izzy a present. I volunteered to go shopping on my day off, but he insisted he wanted to do it. All of us at work had a good chuckle visualizing him in the little pink lacey baby aisle sorting through stuff. And he did a great job:

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I am SO ready to leave on vacation. You can tell how bad it is when I start looking forward to the 10 hour plane ride because I can just sit, read, knit and do nothing (I HATE to fly!). But I am so stressed out at work. I love my co-workers and boss, but the weight of responsibility I’m carrying right now is pretty heavy, plus trying to make sure as many loose ends are tied up as possible are combining to give me a lot of headaches and shoulder pain. I should get back to doing some yoga to relax. I need to keep reminding myself that the dental field doesn’t produce many life and death emergencies – at least ones that I’m responsible for and that the crew will carry on nicely during my absence. I told them the goal is to screw up just enough that I know I’m needed, but not so badly that it can’t be fixed. They assured me they are up to that challenge.

No knitting pictures, because I’m just finishing up odds and ends before I go, but I will leave with a sneak peek at Izzy’s quilt. This is the label I made for it:

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Sorry for the poor quality of the picture, but after about 10 tries, that’s the best I could get. I should be able to post while I’m gone – the blessings of visiting technologically advanced children. So stay tuned for more pictures of Izzy. I’m sure I will bore you to tears with news and pictures of her, as I have all of my friends, acquaintances and total strangers on the street!

IT’S A GIRL! No details yet – my son was instant messaging on his cell phone from the hospital and had to get off before they caught him and kicked him out (no cell phones allowed in the hospital). As soon as he can get to a phone where he can make an overseas call he’ll let us know the rest. But she’s healthy and mom is tired, but doing fine after about 15 hours of labor. Thanks for all of your comments and emails with good wishes. We are flying’ high!