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March 30, 2009

You can come home again

I had to take a short blog sabbatical while Erica moved back home again after living in Florida for two years. We're all adjusting to the new rhythm of the household, but we're delighted she's back with us for a while. So, that's the reason for my serious lack of knitting during the month of March. The crochet project - the Ripple - is something I pick up and work on whenever I have a spot of time.

Rumpled Soft Ripple Crochet Blanket

My best decision about this blanket was to keep it on the small side -- it's a junior-size afghan. The decision I most regret is including the "Aran" or white yarn. But since this is the first of what will be many softly-rippled crochet blankets, my next one(s) will be planned better and I'll be trying cotton or cotton-blends.

Anybody else notice the crochet resurgence? Now's a great time to jump in and start crocheting -- whether it's for the first time or the first time in a long time. Check out Flickr if you need a dose of crochet inspiration. I also made a mosaic this morning that includes colorful crochet visuals and some other random images that made me smile.

Finally, this is my week to Fix, Frog, or Finish my fiber projects. It's also time to de-stash, donate and declutter. Watch this space for more information. You might score some cool fibers.


March 18, 2009

Soft Waves Ripple

Soft Waves Ripple - smaller size
Soft Waves Ripple on Ravelry

Once in a while there's this desire fueled by obsession that's immediately foiled by the realization of lack of knowledge and skill. That was me a couple of years ago when I was reading this blog entry at Posie Gets Cozy. (At the time, the link(s) she pointed to all worked, but some of them no longer do). I enjoyed all of Alicia's "Ripple" blog entries up to the final result.

The appeal of this particular ripple is that it's not "chevron-y." There are no pointy peaks so reminiscent of eyeball-burning 70's crochet. The softer ripple pattern was so visually soothing and I wanted one! And remember when I shamelessly requested and then received one from my friend Stacey? Oh yeah - I did. And I love it and treasure it.

But. I put it out there -- a wispy wish to learn to crochet that grew into searching for endless crochet favorites on Ravelry. And if you click enough hearts on those crochet projects, your crocheting co-worker will notice and send you a message asking when she can teach you to crochet already! (That "Friends Activity" tab makes one very transparent apparently). Ann taught me to crochet in a 2-hour session at the yarn shop and I blogged about it briefly here. A couple of days after my crochet lesson, my mom arrived for what turned into a challenging seven-week visit. And at the halfway point of her stay here, I purchased the first several skeins for the planned Ripple, which I'd decided had to be in Cascade 220 Superwash. I wasn't able to focus on knitting due to feeling stressed and short of time, so I crocheted smaller things in order to work with the Cascade and get an idea how it would feel to crochet with it.

While I've traded one family crisis for another and in spite of many other long-term knits in progress, I figured . . . why the hell NOT just start the blanket with the colors I have? So I bought the book in which the pattern appears - 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns: Exciting Patterns to Knit & Crochet for Afghans, Blankets & Throws, by Jan Eaton. I had NO idea it would include both knitting and crochet patterns -- that was a total bonus! If you wish to attempt a Ripple without buying this book, there is a free pattern online that looks really good too. Jan Eaton's book, however, is the source of the "Soft Waves" Ripple - page 19. I started this on Saturday night after asking Gayle (another co-worker) for help understanding the instructions. There are no charts in this book and that can sometimes clarify things when I get stuck. Here's the progress since Saturday:

RippleJr2.jpg

I really needed this bit of success in conquering a project where I could directly control the outcome -- and rip out a dozen times if I needed to.


March 09, 2009

Twenty

Erica at 5 months


Erica Jordan is TWENTY today

Twenty years ago today, I was having an emergency c-section so that a baby we thought was in distress could make her entrance. Erica weighed in at exactly 8 pounds and was perfectly healthy and actually not in any distress at all -- other than being unhappy about being yanked from her comfy, dark home.

It's kind of startling how quickly twenty years has gone by for both of us. While we've had some rocky years here and there, I think we're on the other side of it and can finally appreciate our differences and celebrate the irony that while our personalities are opposite, we look so much alike.

Happy Birthday, Erica!

March 04, 2009

Henry Snodgrass: 3rd Great Grandfather

Hentry_Snodgrass1.jpg

Henry Snodgrass
Born July 16, 1816 (Virginia)
Died November 22, 1895 (Ohio)

Henry Snodgrass is my 3rd Great Grandfather on my paternal Grandmother's side. I've not written much about my American ancestry simply because I'm more curious about the Japanese side of my family. Recently, however, I've been contacted by several distant cousins from this branch of my family and was sent a few photos and information regarding Henry. For me, one of the striking things about this photo of Henry is that I can see some of my dad's features in Henry's face -- the jawline and the deep-set eyes for instance.

While doing more research, I found the Snodgrass Clan Society and information regarding Snodgrass origins in Scotland. There's a family crest with the Latin ("Facta Non Verba") for "Deeds not Words" and a tartan as well.

Henry remarried after his first wife died and continued to father children until he had 21 (or perhaps 22) offspring. The distant cousins who've been in contact with me are all descended from Henry's first marriage to Elizabeth Phillips. Their grandson, George T. Snodgrass, Jr., is my great-grandfather. George married Sarah Yeater and among their children was my grandmother Ethel. Several generations of this branch of the Snodgrass family lived in Martins Ferry, Ohio where my dad was born.

Another historical tidbit: the year in which Henry was born -- 1816 -- is known as the Year without a Summer -- a weather event caused by the volcanic eruption in 1815 of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. This event subsequently impacted climates around the world.

Let the stories be told
They can say what they want
Let the photos be bold
Let them show what they want

--Good Times Roll, The Cars


March 01, 2009

Knitting for Peace

Knitting for Peace - Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time by Betty Christiansen

Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time, Betty Christiansen

Last year, I started forming a vision for knitting for humanitarian purposes and sending my knitting out in the world. Knitting for Peace was on my wish list for several months and once I finally got my own copy, it became a guidebook for me while I explored some of the possibilities. It wasn't until I wrote a blog entry for Twisted Yarns that I chose the organization: The Mother Bear Project. The bear pattern published by the organization is included in the book. It specifies that the yarn be machine-washable and I already had Cascade 220 Superwash in my stash - including a lovely walnut heather for the bear.

Within each of the five sections, you'll find several charity knitting possibilities that touch your heart; you'll be overcome by the simplicity of some of the needs and, like me, you might want to cast on right away. Because I've seen how each of my own kids has adopted an item that gives them comfort, it was a natural decision to choose the bear. He's not fully assembled yet, because I wanted to attempt to photograph the steps in the process. What he looks like so far:

Mother Bear Project - Unassembled Bear

I'm a slow knitter and yet it took just a day and a half to knit him. I followed the book's pattern as written but might modify it for future bears to knit the extremities in the round. If you're interested in this project, there's an episode of Knitty Gritty on DIY Network that includes the pattern and screen shots, along with assembly instructions you can download and print.

Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises (Elizabeth Zimmermann)