Monday, April 28, 2008

Dear Carmen--You have been in my thoughts a lot lately. I guess it is just that time of year. It's funny, I have whole converstations with you in myhead, but when I sit in front of a keyboard to put them down, I am stymied. I'd love to let you know about all that has happened since you left us but I am afraid that I will start crying here in the middle of Caribou coffee.

Caribou Coffee is kind of where Minnesota starts for me. About a month after we moved here, I sat outside at Caribou. It was October and I was knitting. The sweater I was kntting then is still unfinished--not too surprising as it is a complicated fairisle pattern. I think it was early afternoon and I was waiting for it to be time to pick up E from daycare. It was a beautiful afternoon, but the surprising thing is that, while I was sitting there, a woman approached me and asked to see what I was knitting. She expressed appreciation in a way that demonstrated that she too was a knitter. I knew at that moment that I had found a place that would be accepting of my quirkiness. That was in 2004 when knitting had not achieved it's zenith as THE hobby. Knitting in other places we had lived was still associated with grannies and acrylic yarn. But here in Minnesota young professional women are avid knitters. Knitting in public does not garner odd stares, but questions about what I'm knitting, and whether the onlooker has ever tried a similar project. This was an "ahh" moment for me.

I continue to love Minnesota, although this winter has been somewhat challenging. TOday, the end of April, it is just 33 degrees, with highs projected in the mid-40s. Despite the weather, there is much to love here. There is great diversity here, not only among the people but also in the sporting and cultural offerings. THis is the first place Michael and I have both loved. This is manifest in our purchase of a second home, on a lake up North. Our Breezy Point home is a physical commitment to this area, it says that we will be here for a long time.

I wold normally be at work today but I am recovering from a mild case of pneumonia. The reason I am at Caribou is that I am hiding from the cleaning ladies. I am going to return home soon for a big nap. I have missed some time at work due first to a cold virus but then to superinfection with pneumonia. It is fortunate that I have a doc in the house to quickly diagnose and treat me, otherwise I'd probably still be languishing in bed, trying to decide if I needed to see someone.

During this sick time, I have been able to get bits and pieces of projects done. I finished spinning the Belle fiber into singles and will ply it later this week. The second batch of carded fiber was more difficult to work with then I anticipated. A lot of neps. I hope the final yarn turns out. It is kind of a dirty white, so I will definitely be dying the finished yarn. Probably in multiple colors. I still have to assemble my dye equipment so that I can really begin natural dying. I have lots of yarn accumulated that I want to dye.

I also worked a bit on the merino/tencel top. I still don't know how I will ply it. I have been spinning it in no particular order, so I may Navajo ply it to keep the colors intact. This fiber seems to go on and on. I am getting a little tired of it. Other outstanding spinning projects include the rest of the varigated merino and my alpaca.

I have finished two pairs of socks--the gluttony socks and the leafling socks. These were two of the projects in my "April" basket--a basket of knitting projects to work on in April. I also finished my handspun sweater and am very happy with the outcome. It is an oversized, comfy sweater, just as I had imagined. Other projects in the April basket are the solstice table runner (about 1/2 way done) and the Northern lights shawl (this one is slow-going at over 500 stitches per row and growing). These two items remain in the basket for May, with the addition of the Phoenix socks, and an old bobble sweater (an Annie Zilborg design and kit that I purchased at MD Sheep and Wool, 2004).

I haven't even gotten to my newest passion--designing textiles and accessories for both houses, and hopefully for things to sell in Terri's shop. Right now, I have plans for two quilts (for the two queen beds at the lake) and a throw/afghan for our bedroom here. And lots more plans in my head. TOo bad I actually have to work for a living.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

So I spent a lot of my knitting time yesterday correcting a mistake in my solstice shawl. I had to pull back two rows--doesn't seem like a big deal, but since each row now contains 500 stitches...this represented quite a bit of knitting. I've been struggling a bit with this pattern, the graphs are incorrect and this threw me until I decided to correct them. In addition, the continual increases mean that I have to do frequent stitch counts--A bit of a chore with this many stitches. Add in constant interruptions from E and M, and there you go.
We are up at the lake this weekend. There are icicles hanging from the roof and about six inches of snow on the deck from our recent snow storm but the temp today is supposed to get up into the 40s. Spring may finally be here!
This has been a long winter and I will be glad to be through it. It has been a tough few months and I am only now realizing how stressful it has all been. I haven't spoken to anyone in my family in months--a real indicator of how stressed I have been. having learned so well to suppress negative feelings, I can't call anyone when I don't have good things to talk about!
Actually, there are good things to talk about. Karate is going well, and I continue to love it. I will probably get my purple belt the first of May and am loving the challenge of learning all of the new techniques. As I progress, it becomes clear how important strength and overall fitness become if you really want to be able to do all of the maneuvers! Trying to incorporate a regular fitness routine into my schedule has been a bit of a challenge but I am becoming more committed to it. It helps that the days are longer and it is light out when I get up before six in the morning!
Wendy continues to deteriorate. Yesterday, E found her trying to put a shirt on as though it were pants. A recent visit to the dentist revealed that she needs reminders about brushing her teeth. Thankfully, I don't need to do it for her. I am having enough trouble with the fact that when I ask her if she has brushed her teeth, she gives me a toothy grin to let me see how she has done. I find this kind of intimacy so abhorrent! THis has been a large source of my stress. I don't know how I will handle it when she really needs help with hygiene issues. It is bad enough that today I will need to supervise her in the shower.